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Plus One

International Premiere
  • USA
  • 2013
  • 95 mins
  • DCP
  • English
Official Selection, SXSW 2013

Were you a different person 45 minutes ago? Is it wild to suggest you may have been? At an age like 18, 19 or 20, a significant time of development and personal understanding, it might not be. Kids are ever changing, ever evolving and often, not so organically. They revolve interests, style and friends in an effort to grasp themselves and impress others. All the while, they hemorrhage mistakes and spew nervous energy with little time to understand what’s working and what isn’t. PLUS ONE, the latest from Greek filmmaker Dennis Iliadis (THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT), forces surreal reflection on the youth at a lavish house party, in a pop art-horror spin on one-night-can-change-everything teen movies.

Clearly inspired by, and critical of, the insane heights of house parties in the likes of PROJECT X and 21 & OVER, the meat of PLUS ONE exists at such an all-out bash. It’s an already unrealistic vision (have you ever been to one with light shows? Go-go dancers?), so that when a simple, cosmic event sets forward the film’s conceit, there’s little fighting the stranger places it’s willing to go. David and Teddy are the central players and ones who quickly catch on that all isn’t right, as doubles of themselves and everyone else attending are popping up and reliving the evening, just about 45 minutes prior. With each blackout of lights, the doubles catch up in time.

David, having just lost girlfriend Jill in a case of mistaken-identity idiocy (and foreshadowing) attempts to manipulate at least one version of her into taking him back. Teddy, meanwhile, lucks into an evening with the ultimate crush and while able to reflect on what he quickly refers to as the best night of his life, is also horrified by the discovery. The socially shy Allison, in the film’s more psychedelic of subplots, finds her doppelganger and they proceed to connect and find a certain harmony. The rest of the party is not so lucky as they’re forced to witness their trashy revelry all over again, with the power surges embodying the harsh light that makes ugly all your fun in the dark. Iliadis flexes his stylistic tendencies through slick party photography that’s turned just a bit uncomfortable and confrontational. It’s an unsettling, often funny and strange peek into growing up and accepting who you are.

— Samuel Zimmerman