In the movies Earth has been invaded by alien forces so often that one must wonder if there is a “Must Visit” brochure at some intergalactic Denny’s out there, that or the Earth has a Giant “Kick Me” sign plastered on it that can only be seen from space. Now in Dennis Iliadis’s +1 aka Plus One we get “visitors” of quite a different sort.
The movie starts pretty much like your traditional teen sex comedy as we are introduced to our main cast characters; David (Rhys Wakefield) who makes a surprise visit to his girlfriend Jill’s (Ashley Hinshaw) college campus to watch her in a fencing tournament only to be later caught kissing the girl who beat her in the competition, and then there is Teddy (Logan Miller) who is David’s comic relief friend and whose sole goal is to get laid.
What makes +1 stand apart from other alien visitation movies is how ambiguous the threat level is. These aliens aren’t blowing up national monuments a la Independence Day or slowly taking over mankind from the shadows as in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, in fact their agenda is never made clear, which worked for me but I could see it leaving some people who want a cut and dried villainous alien a bit perturbed. The aliens themselves are also not clearly defined; a glowing meteorite craters in this well-to-do neighbourhood, and white glowing energy creeps up into the power line that cause periodic power outages. Beyond that we only see the effect of this visitation, but not the how or why.
The rest of the movie takes place at this extravagant house party where David hopes to run into Jill and patch up their shattered relationship while Teddy on the other hand miraculously finds himself in the blissful arms of the beautiful blonde Melanie (Natalie Hall). When he finds himself in the company of two Melanies… well, that is when the shit begins to hit the fan. It seems the alien energies trigger a power outage that results in all the party goers being duplicated, but not in the evil “take over your life” variety, as these duplicates are exact copies in every facet, even to the point that they don’t even know they are duplicates.
For a good part of the film it’s just David, Teddy and outsider Allison (Colleen Dengel & Suzanne Dengel) who realize what has happened and discover that the duplicates seem to be repeating the events of ten minutes ago. This goes unnoticed by most as the bulk of the original partiers are out in the backyard watching a stripper act while the duplicates currently occupy the house. David uses this opportunity to pull a Groundhog Day with the duplicate of Jill as he can now counter her earlier arguments perfectly because he now knows them even before she does. This is where I thought I’d figured the film out and where it was going; wild party, alien duplicate, time displacement, hijinks ensue, but I couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Director Dennis Iliadis blends the teen-comedy/angst film with a dark and creepy sci-fi story that quickly descends into some seriously dark territory. The dread and fear of being replaced is the key theme in this movie. Jill’s main reason for breaking up with David was because he made her feel replaceable, but with this alien force at work this could be a more horrifyingly accurate than Jill could even possibly imagine. How quick the partiers turns to violence is probably the weakest element of the film as I doubt drunken idiots could get that motivated that fast even against a perceived threat, but this is a small quibble in an otherwise excellent and original flick. I never heard of this film until I caught the trailer for it on the Bluray for Dracula 3D so I’m guessing it never got a wide release, which is a crime as I really enjoyed this movie and highly recommend it.