The Twin, 2022.
Directed by Taneli Mustonen
Starring Teresa Palmer, Steven Cree, Tristan Ruggeri, Barbara Marten, Ergo Küppas
Following the aftermath of a tragic accident that claimed the life of one of their twins, Rachel (Teresa Palmer) and husband Anthony (Steven Cree) relocate to the other side of the world with their surviving son in the hopes of building a new life.
The minute The Twin opens against the backdrop of an endless cornfield you can immediately ascertain two things about Taneli Mustonen’s Scandinavian set chiller; firstly, nothing good happens when a horror film features that particular crop, and secondly, it’s the start of a seemingly endless list of tropes that the filmmakers employ to generate largely unsuccessful seen-it-all-before scares.
Having said that the film does open in promising style by establishing an effective level of unease. This is largely thanks to Panu Aaltio’s wonderful genre score, which brings a burgeoning sense of doom to proceedings, the bleak but beautiful Finnish landscape that intrinsically works with the music, and Theresa Palmer’s solemn, sympathetic performance. They’re all factors that go some way to forgiving the clunkier lines of dialogue – “I have a good feeling about this” – and laughable plot beats, such as moving your family into a former mortuary that has pictures of dead children on the wall mere months after losing your own kid in a road-traffic-accident.
Original horror is a hard feat to achieve. Films such as The VVitch or Hereditary don’t come along very often, but The Twin leans so heavily into the toybox of superior spooky kid narratives that it suffers as a result of being a patchwork slice of hokum stitched together from the peerless El Orfanato, to Renée Zellweger dud Case 39, all filtered through Rosemary Baby style community paranoia.
The strongest part of the story can be found in the comparisons with the Mia Farrow 1972 classic. When the script abandons scenes in which there are ghostly whispers or that age-old signifier of trouble, a child scribbling disturbing pictures, and instead becomes a Wicker Man meets Midsommar mystery, all wrapped in folklore bobbins about resurrecting the devil and the Scooby-Doo reveals of hooded locals, it actually starts to become fun. It’s here that The Twin descends into some real Blood on Satan’s Claw level peril, putting Palmer through a series of trials that spill into her waking nightmares, brilliantly blurring the lines of reality and adding to her perceived psychosis.
All of this eventually leads to a Shyamalan style twist, which is executed really well as a punctuation to Palmer’s grief coping evolution. It’s one of those narrative beats that really adds weight to what you think you’ve been watching, elevating this from simply being a run-of-the-mill ghost story.
Appropriately enough for a film called The Twin, this creepy-kid horror is a copy of so many superior efforts, but thanks to Palmer’s committed performance as a grieving mother, it’s a paranoid descent into madness that’s just about worth taking.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★
Matt Rodgers – Follow me on Twitter