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Identicals on VOD and DVD

Sunday, 14 August 2016 23:00 Written by 

Identicals - out now on DVD and VODAre you happy with your life? If not, would you pass up the opportunity to start anew, leaping into somebody else’s richer or more exciting existence? Dark, sci-fi thriller “Identicals” presents a window into such a possibility. Slater (Lachlan Nieboer – Torchwood, Downton Abbey) experiences a shocking home invasion where his girlfriend Nadia (Nora-Jane Noone – “The Descent”, the Jack Taylor TV movies) is abducted at gunpoint.

Still reeling from the violent attack, Slater receives an invitation to visit Brand New U, a company that specialises in identity transference. In return for essentially becoming a new person, albeit with a similar face, customers must promise to leave their past lives behind and fully embrace their new reality. The punishment for breaking this rule is potentially fatal, but Slater’s love for Nadia proves difficult to shake.

Written and directed by Simon Pummells, this movie is very stylishly executed. The striking visual design reminded me a lot of the work of Andrew Niccol (“Gattaca”, “The Host”), in that highly reflective chrome and glass architecture is mixed with stark white interiors to create a futuristic, emotionless environment.

Other influences must surely include “Blade Runner”, “The Matrix” and “Seconds”, the former because the scenes where Brand New U’s customers are profiled is reminiscent of Voight-Kampff interrogations, and the latter films for the explorations of identity, real and perceived.

There are some good ideas trying to break through here but the movie’s execution becomes increasingly nebulous and frustrating as it progresses. Instead of providing concrete answers and a tangible plot, we seem to get sucked into a more and more dream-like non-narrative where different versions of the principals are drawn to each other. The stakes rise but it is impossible to become fully invested in the characters when everything is so opaque.

Other regrettable annoyances include thin and repetitive dialogue, which is presumably supposed to be a device to illustrate the echoes between the protagonists’ lives, and a persistent, very high-pitched tone like an old-fashioned camera flash recharging between shots. A Polaroid-style camera and its photos are featured in the film, a bit like in “Back to the Future”, which is a simple way for the characters to hark back to their pasts, but the high-frequency noise is overused to the extent that it becomes grating.

These comments may well suggest that I did not enjoy the film but actually its lack of laser focus is, in a way, a strength, and possibly motivation enough to re-watch the movie to see if my interpretation of what was going on changes at all after further reflection.

Special features include:

  • An interview with writer/director Simon Pummell (14 mins)
  • VFX breakdowns (green screen to finished article transitions – 4 mins)

The interview helps to explain Pummell’s ideas behind the film, although even then some of his answers are a little murky. His main launching point was apparently the way most people have constructed online identities that exist alongside their real-world ones, but which are often one (or more) steps removed from the original source.

“Identicals” (2015) is out now on VOD, and released on DVD on 22 August 2016, courtesy of Arrow Films. The main feature has a running time of 96 minutes approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £10.99 on VOD, £15.99 on DVD, or less from