+1 or Plus One is the sci-fi horror brainchild of Dennis Iliadis. Though its original release flashed by us at the 2013 SXSW festival, Illiadis felt the production was rushed for festival screening and has since tweaked it for international release.
The story takes a rapid-fire spin on horror films and the concept of identity. Who better to struggle with a terrifying chase of identities than teenagers? In the age of narcissism the identity of who you are and who recognises you is the penultimate horror second only to having your head blown off by an angry, drugged up hick.
If you’re not familiar with that sort of experience maybe you should give +1 a whirl. There have been comparisons made to Donnie Darko, The concept of who is who, running around, unsure if you’re talking to the real person, brings 80s throwbacks of The Thing with Kurt Russell, kinda.
It’s a stretch, but where The Thing and its ludicrousness is entertaining, +1 tends to falls short. One of the key things a horror movie needs is a character you want to cheer on. You will want the lead character to live. There is no need for the characters to be particularly fledged out. This isn’t a drama, or a heart-felt comedy. This is a thriller with a twist of sci-fi, plain and simple. But that still requires the lead to be someone you want to live.
And yet the lead character in Plus One will leave most viewers non-plussed. His introduction to audiences leaves him the bad guy, clean cut. With no hidden reason or back story to redeem him. And in the middle of horrific crisis, he uses the strange and terrifying misfortune in an attempt to get the girl back. The other characters follow the same line. Mostly occupy cut-out characters to keep the story moving. While it flounders about for 40 minutes there is no real character progression or means to an end.
Even though the main character David, played by Rhys Wakefield, never redeems himself +1 does have some redeeming features. The playfulness of colour and light is a key factor in the plot. Giving a Project X vibe, this is easily a movie geared towards a younger generation. The play on doubles and timelines ties in nicely with the colours, and its clear Iliadis knows how to use a colour palette without resorting to deep reds of blood and gore all the time.
There is a good comparison to the mindlessness of adolescence. Undoubtedly, there’s some metaphor in there about youth and identity but no one has time for that. The characters only want to party hard without dying, and the viewers want a gorefest with a surprising ending. Whether or not the ending is surprising is as always, up to the viewers.
Review Score: TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Running Time: 95 minutes
Plus One is released on DVD in Australia this month.