When it comes to exploring the space-time continuum, I’m admittedly a bit of a novice, but the thought of alternate realities and other versions of ourselves existing is always an intriguing concept. Bring it up around any philosophers, and you could spark a debate that lasts hours on end, but thankfully Dennis Iliadis’ film +1 is a much simpler beast. Part party-hearty, rambunctious teen comedy, part doppelgänger sci-fi mystery, Iliadis creates a tense and hectic scenario by avoiding too many explanations, benefiting from simplicity instead of handcuffing himself with brainless stupidity. It’s a quick, easily watchable thriller that makes you accept what’s happening, and one that won’t challenge minds in a way that some heavy-handed genre releases dump mountains of information on viewers. All you have to do is strap in and go along for Iliadis’ ride.
Plus One takes place over the course of an insane house party being attended by college friends home for the summer, celebrating – well, just celebrating for the hell of it. Friends David (Rhys Wakefield) and Teddy (Logan Miller) attend the party with typical motives, David trying to win back his recently single ex-girlfriend and Teddy trying to hook up with anything that moves, but after a meteor crash-lands outside the party (with no one noticing), their night becomes a little more complicated. Random blackouts start happening every so often, and when the lights come back on, our friends slowly realize there are exact copies of everyone, acting out events that took place earlier in the night, and every time the lights come back on, these clones get closer and closer to real time. With no idea about what’s happening, David and Teddy attempt to warn the party, and fear what might happen if the doppelgängers catch up completely with their real life versions. The only problem is, who is who?
While there’s nothing excitingly groundbreaking, the fun in Plus One is derived from simplicity. Our characters are just some excited partygoers trying to enjoy the night, yet the suspense that builds as our two worlds are hurdling towards one another creates intrigue and excitement, as we’re left just as clueless as our characters. Their uncertainty and detective work sets an anxious mood that mixes entertaining, fun-filled partying with the horrors of unknown outcomes. In all honesty, everything could have been fine when time actually caught up, and all the panic could have been for fun, but there’s absolutely no way to tell – and not knowing is the fun.
Youngsters Rhys Wakefield and Logan Miller turn in enjoyable lead performances for what can be described as your typical college-aged characters, with Rohan Kymal also delighting as our party host Angad. You might recognize Wakefield from this year’s home invasion thriller The Purge, where he provided a inherently creepy villain, but here he plays a much tamer character in comparison to his hormone-driven best friend played by Logan Miller. There were a lot of characters though, as this mansion was packed with excited young adults, so no one shines particularly, but for the roles most actors were given, all bodies involved fit the frantic environment – even if the party seemed blown out to fantastical proportions.
Honestly, Plus One felt pretty generic for a long time, and it wasn’t until the secretly dark nature of Bill Gullo’s screenplay (story by Iliadis) reared its ugly head before I was truly hooked. While simplicity can be looked at as a positive thing, without any uniqueness, simple planning can blow up in a film’s face. Thankfully, Plus One does have a seedy, questionable undertone that becomes extremely apparent, not only changing our perceptions of characters, but also revealing the abhorrent realities of human nature. In a flash we’re transported from a slick sci-fi movie into a much darker psychological thriller, and this is the proper jolt that accompanies the streamlined storytelling best.
Alright, I might not know anything more about alternate realities, but sitting through Plus One was still a fun ride. From the up and coming cast to the party-centric shenanigans, we’re treated to silliness and some inklings of drama, but once the true nature Iliadis’ work is uncovered – that’s when the real fun begins. +1 may not absolutely blow viewers away, but it does provide a perfectly thrilling watch, which sometimes is just good enough.
+1 will have you seeing double, but as time passes at such a quick pace, you'll have a blast trying to figure out why.