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Reviews » Theatrical Reviews » Plus One
Plus One
IFC Films // Unrated // September 20, 2013
Review by Jeff Nelson | posted September 19, 2013 | E-mail the Author
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The party setting has become quite popular over the past year or so. They all start similarly, as they could easily be compared to some of the sequences found in Project X. However, this setting is primarily a back-drop or is primarily there to provide some type of social commentary. Plus One has placed itself in this group of films, but director Dennis Iliadis is trying to do something different. We haven't seen anything from him since his remake of The Last House on the Left. While this won't receive as big of a release, I wouldn't be surprised if it has independent film buffs talking. It has a strong concept and makes some seriously bold decisions. Unfortunately, the execution is incredibly disappointing. I kept waiting for it to captivate me on this odd journey, but it never managed to do so. Perhaps you'll have a different experience with this independent thriller.

Three college friends hit the biggest party of the year, but they aren't all having a great time. David (Rhys Wakefield) is trying to get his girlfriend Jill (Ashley Hinshaw) back after he was caught kissing another girl. However, their relationship troubles are the least of their problems, as a mysterious phenomenon disrupts the night. After the lights turned off with the group being upstairs, they soon realize that copies of themselves are still downstairs partying. This ultimately places them into a chaotic situation that challenges their friendships and whether they can stay alive. They must discover what's going on before it's too late. Nobody knows what will happen if these doubles in the past catch up to the present.

Plus One doesn't instantly begin at the party. There's a small amount of time given to character development before everything gets rolling. It starts with the predictable relationship that one would expect to see from this film. Once they finally arrive at the party, we're forced to sit through some unnecessary disposition. David begins walking around the house in an attempt to find Jill. He continues to watch her from a distance, as she talks with other guys. This really isn't needed, since it doesn't add anything to the characters and doesn't really progress the plot forward. David wants to try to speak with Jill, but she has no interest in wasting any more of her time with him. This "cat-and-mouse" game goes on for quite some time. His friends go in different directions, but they each encounter their own obstacles. The Project X mentality is enforced with the character named Teddy (Logan Miller). His sole intention of attending this party is to get laid. As expected, not everything goes as it should. Once the lights finally go out, the plot finally get moving.

While it's relatively simple to write about the basic plot, it gets a lot more confusing. Multiple timelines begin to take place and overlap one another. We don't know much more than the characters do, making for a seemingly great mystery. The "cat-and-mouse" game continues, but not in the same sense. David begins to follow his clone, as he wants to investigate what's going on. The only thing we know is that they are doing exactly what the characters already did in the past. We're left wondering what their intentions are, and what exactly will happen once they catch up in time. This is surely the film's biggest strength, since it truly isn't predictable. Viewers will be left at the edge of their seats wondering what will happen next. Unlike a Hollywood motion picture, most of the story isn't explained. This allows for the audience to interpret the events as they continue to progress. The screenplay only gets more intriguing as it continues to unfold, for the time being. However, it doesn't remain that way.

This film manages to be entertaining for a decent amount of time, but it starts to get repetitive and stale by the time the third act kicks into gear. Since the same events continue to happen time after time, I kept asking why it wasn't progressing forward. A large portion of the movie is dedicated to one person saying what's going on, while the receivers laugh in disbelief. Once the movie finally gets to the climax, it's quite disappointing. There isn't much of a pay-off for how much time we have to wait. It feels as if writer Bill Gullo wasn't sure where to go with it, so he tacked on a lame ending. There are a lot of questions still unanswered by the time the credits are rolling. I enjoy films that are a bit ambiguous, but this doesn't motivate its audience to engage in much of a debate. Once the movie ended, I simply didn't care to get to the bottom of it. Motion pictures such as these should inspire viewers to discuss this with their fellow moviegoers. Plus One has its moments when it offers some great build-up, but it ends in nothing more than a fizzle.

None of the writing demands great acting, but the cast manages to deliver some decent performances. Even though I never found myself caring much for David, Rhys Wakefield did a good job with the role. He might not be likable, but he still manages to create some intrigue here. Ashley Hinshaw is pretty good as Jill. Even though she's primarily only featured through the relationship turmoil sequences, Hinshaw delivers some authentic emotions. These are the two strongest performances to be found, although all of the actors do what they needed to. There isn't a single bad representation to be found, which will most certainly draw more audiences into this mystery. It's a shame that they didn't have better writing to back them up. Otherwise, this could have been a strong independent thriller.

I clearly had a lot of issues with Plus One. There are numerous problems with the pacing through the first act, and most of the second. There's a lot of extra fluff that could have been cut out to improve the flow of the plot. There is some decent build-up later on for the climax, but it doesn't go anywhere. This excuse for an ending truly doesn't fit with the remainder of the film. Fortunately, there's a strong concept at the bottom of it all. I wasn't able to guess the intentions of the copies and the actors somehow manage to carry on, despite the mediocre writing. Plus One might have a great premise, but it allows itself to become stale before it gets the chance to go anywhere. This would have worked a lot better as a short, rather than a full-length feature. Regardless, it still isn't a complete waste of time. Perhaps you'll enjoy it more than I did. Rent it.

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