Friday, October 14, 2011

Seconds Apart (2011)

Two nerds you wouldn't dare mess with

A raging party is going down at a house with a group of jocks giving bragging rights to women and playing a drinking game around a table in an enclosed room. Someone shows up with a video camera and heads for the room they're in. The game suddenly turns over to Russian Roulette as each of the guys blows their brains out with the same casual dialog they engaged in before. The cynical and sarcastic detective Lampkin is called to the scene to investigate what looks at first as a suicide but without the logical reason to back it up. Jonah and Seth are twins that were born "Seconds Apart" and share everything, including the special ability that caused the jocks to kill themselves while they filmed on.

The twins are sadistic, smarty pants teens without remorse and a deadly weapon at their disposal, which leaves them without fear or feeling. They call what they do "projects" that come with a video library to show for their past transgressions. They lack empathy and use their hobby to get a shred of feeling, if possible, for the horrible, tortuous ways their victims end up going out when rewatching the video footage. Through sheer intuition and some interviews, the detective suspends his disbelief that they could have something to do with it despite the brothers never getting physical with the victims. The background knowledge he puts into this makes him in the modern day look more amateur than pro, as if he's all mouth, eyes and ears than an evidence man. How do you prove an unheard of ability in someone's mind through modern law? That's just it. How do you take one regular detective that's not on a special task force or seen anything of the like before and make him believe right away than just moving on; wouldn't have been the same movie, I know, but at least give him something more to clench a foundation to make it more fascinating and challenging as to what he's stumbled into otherwise the concept can feel underused to a new comer. Because he has too much time on his hands? No other cases? No wife/kids? Come on. The twins start to get power hungry when things don't go their way and act like they're invincible. Seth is unflinching to what they're doing, while Jonah is more reasonable. Jonah meets a new, confident girl from school named Eve that puts up a divide between the two that were inseparable beforehand causing their close knit relationship to go all downhill from there.

"Seconds Apart" plays out like a horror tale meets gumshoe type story with a shadowy look to the settings and chromatic, bleak templates in others to give it some atmosphere. The detective is somewhat tongue-in-cheek on the genre: drinking, smoking, a past traumatic event, wise cracking, trench coat wearing, obsessive behavior--you name it. The issue is he stands out as such a contrast here that it makes you wonder what was the purpose of him being here other than to throw a stick in the spokes of the twins and be a self-sacrificing guy to uncover the truth. At points, he felt like a device in the script than a person, especially since the story doesn't maintain a steady central character but jumps between perspectives of both sides. This isn't always stable when balancing mystery and character development: either being too obvious or not giving enough. The two twins are frequently shown with their actions and thoughts out in the open, along with the detective frequenting old haunts and giving little bits of pieces of his past with the same nightmarish flashbacks of a tragedy with his late wife with a scar to show for it.

What brings the picture down is the general tone feels unsteady at points. It starts out somewhat sadistic but with some black/dry humor, then moves on over to the dramatic and sympathetic as they dive further into the characters' lives, and then a back and forth again to the previously mentioned but not always with smooth transitions in between. The film has its share of transitional periods but doesn't always maintain a level of intrigue or mystery, especially when it starts to meander in the middle portion and significantly bring down the focus the film had prior. The level of tension starts to lose its grip as it turns more melodramatic and somewhat mundane. Eventually they get to the explanation behind their abilities, though it seems somewhat run-of-the-mill and something you would have already seen on "X-Files" or "Millennium," except squeezed in towards the end as if they needed to include some stock answer for it all that wasn't even foreshadowed or built up to prior. Another twist happens, that's better left unhinted, but makes it more worthwhile.

The brothers have all the power and manipulation they need but are lonely individuals that don't know any better. They play the typical twins but amped up to an uncanny level, such as finishing each other's sentences or be it dressing and acting alike. Their parents are all creepy smiles and overly charming demeanor, no matter the situation. Their presence is unsettling since you don't know where they're coming from or what they're potentially hiding themselves. This has some fantastic visuals during some segments that look almost as detailed as paintings. There are also some really cruel and cringeworthy ways the victims hallucinate while in a trancelike state. "Seconds Apart" had a lot of potential but got a little ambitious to include as many threads as possible. I'd imagine it would have been a more solid experience if they resequenced, built up more to or tightened up some of the scenarios. It's no doubt got a distinct identity down pat, which can't always be said about other horror flicks, but those mentioned might have given it more of a central, driving focus to get completely wrapped up in.

Rating: 6.5/10

Director: Antonio Negret (Hacia la oscuridad (Towards Darkness))
Stars: Orlando Jones, Edmund Entin, Gary Entin, Samantha Droke, Louis Herthum, Morgana Shaw
Link: IMDB

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