There’s a lot to like about this spooky Australian thriller, not least Adelaide Clemens’ stoic performance as twins Maude and Cleo. A sluggish pace and a muddled plot though fail to build the tension needed for this to be genuinely scary and ultimately satisfying.
Maude, living in Berlin, is beset by traumatic visions of her twin Cleo, who has been missing for a year. Returning home to Australia, her prickly and fragile parents believe Cleo is dead and treat Maude’s visions with impatience. Believing that she is seeing what has happened, or is happening, to her sister, Maude sets off with Cleo’s fiancé Ralph (Alex Russell) and ‘tormented at not solving the case’ detective Henry (Jonny Pasvolsky).
For a while, the ambiguity of the story keeps you engaged. The intrepid trio head into wooded mountains and stay at an odd caravan park seemingly populated by an assortment of ‘freaks’, in the stereotypical cinematic sense. Twins. People with intellectual disability. Poor people. Albinos. You know the trope. That Maude is also a twin doesn’t make her one too as she’s pretty and heroic.
Then the story starts to get convoluted, with characters having to explain to us their muddled motivations. The pace slows and tricksy gimmicks are used in place of real tension; violent bursts of histrionic music, a sudden red screen and other jump scares. Plot twists are a little obvious and the denouement seems contrived and unsatisfying.
The film seems unsure if its genre. There is enough in the basic concept to create a suspenseful drama with an interesting subtext about the competitiveness of siblings and the need to separate from our childhood selves. There is little character development though, except for Maude, and so any depth is sacrificed for insubstantial shock tactics. As a thriller, it plods along, deciding to show rather than hide the source of danger, thereby rendering it slightly ludicrous.
It has lots of good aspects though and a re-edit to ramp up the tension and create a more thoughtful subtext could really make it shine.
Have you seen this film? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments below.