By: Mark McKelvie
Adapted from the novel Twins by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland, the psychological body horror drama Dead Ringers is an unsettling account of sibling connection taken to the extreme.
Elliot and Beverly Mantle (both played by Jeremy Irons) are two identical twins and phenom gynecologists working in Toronto in the 1980s. They have a practice in Toronto where they work as a team: Elliot is the smooth-talking, lady-charmer one and Beverly is the wickedly smart but socially awkward one. Since they look so similar, the pair often attend events in the place of the other, sharing in the achievement or splitting the work load.
Events aren’t the only thing the twins share. Elliot develops a close relationship with many of his patients, closer than the typical patient-doctor relationship should be. When he tells Beverly that movie star Claire Niveau (Geneviève Bujold) is having trouble conceiving and he should see her for “special treatment”, Beverly is excited. Besides, they’ve shared everything since they were born. It’s almost like they were connected at the hip. But Claire is different for Beverly, and once he starts providing her with prescription medication, he realizes that he can’t keep sharing her with his brother. He needs to ‘cut the cord’.
With Jeremy Irons playing both of the twins, the camera work and costume design is fantastic. The two are never in the same shot at once, but the camera work doesn’t make this decision obvious. The close up and medium wide shots with the stand-in allow for seamless transitions between the two. Elliot and Beverly are easy to tell apart even though they’re played by the same actor due to their different wardrobe and style choices.
The womanizer Elliot is always dressed up in expensive suits and wearing expensive ties, whereas Beverly is more modest, wearing more casual and “nerdy” sweaters and cardigans. The movie is filmed in Toronto and locals may be able to recognize many of the locations in the film like Casa Loma and Bell Trinity Square.
Dead Ringers is well worth your time as an emotional drama-horror film that ages surprisingly well. It currently costs $4.99 to rent on YouTube and iTunes.
This piece was edited by Brent Smyth.