The reason why I love movies about clones, imposters and doppelgangers is because we can use it as an amazing tool to reflect on human nature, and especially questions of identity. What is it that makes me unique? Would someone who knows me see the difference between me and a copy of me? Am I but my skin? This theme makes for a great basis to get really philosophical, and that’s what I think these 5 movies do right!
Jordan Peele’s sophomore soiree in the horror genre is a disturbingly gorgeous film that saturates every shot with imagery that enriches the world, pays tribute to other horror classics, and foreshadows what is to come in the plot. Peele set out to make something completely different from his first film “Get Out” and certainly succeeded in that.
The film begins with an unsettling prologue set in 1986, when a young girl with neglectful parents wanders into a house of mirrors just off the Santa Cruz boardwalk and discovers her doppelgänger. We then flash forward to modern day; the young girl is now a grown woman named Adelaide who is taking her own family to the same vacation spot from the prologue. After a day at the beach, the family settles for a quiet night in only to be confronted by trespassers who turn their vacation into a nightmare.
When it comes down to it, “Us” is a story about America and our fear of the other. What is so jarring about “Us” is that the monsters turn out to have our own faces, reminding us that sometimes predators are hidden in plain sight.
That’s just one of the many interpretations of the film, though. Because the best part of this movie is that it doesn’t leave your mind when the credits roll. It keeps you up at night, unpacking everything you just saw and experienced, and any film that has me doing that is a success in my book.
Never Let Me Go (2010)
The movie follows 3 friends in an at first glance ordinary private school. While normal kids might dream of becoming doctors, firefighters, or perhaps parents- the Hailsham students aren’t as privileged. They have one single purpose in life, and it is to become donors. One by one, their organs will be harvested until their bodies give out. A heart-wrenching story.
Like with most Garland movies, we are faced with a range of philosophical questions. What makes a human? Why do we need hope and faith? What is a soul and how do you prove you have one? Why does mankind create fairytales and myths? What are we willing to do to not disappear?
It’s the perfect Garland recipe, and he has shown time after time that he is able to create a highly conceptual and philosophical movie while also telling a wonderfully heart-wrenching story.
Dead Ringer (1988)
David Cronenberg is well known for his deep reflections into family dynamics, sexuality, violence and identity. Dead Ringer is a brilliant film that combines all those things, and the result is as disturbing as it is interesting. Using cinematic techniques rare for the time, Cronberg allowed actor Jeremy Irons to perform the roles of both twins with profound complexity. This is THE movie to watch if you’re studying acting!
Identical twin brothers Beverly and Elliot Mantle are odd already as children, but as adults their oddity has brought them success in the medical field. The brothers are both gynecologists with a creative talent for inventing new instruments. But the profession is not the only thing they have in common, the brothers share just about everything – including women.
Kinky sexuality crossed with the director’s craze for some bodily horror, all embedded in a philosophical reflection (quite literally) about identity. Cronberg uses the twins’ distinct personalities to explore issues of male-female dichotomies. The fact that this is based on a true event makes it even more horrendous, but it definitely allows for an interesting study – and who better to explore the human mind than David Cronenberg?
Under the skin (2013)
A movie that much like its title has a lot going on underneath the surface. Under The Skin is somewhat of a social commentary about feminism and sexism. Jonathan Glazer created not only a film, but an experiment. An examination of human society seen through the eyes of an outsider. Even if you end up hating this movie, it’s worth a watch.
An alien in a female body shaped by Scarlett Johansson drives around in a van along the streets of Glasgow in search of lonely men to seduce. That’s all you’ll get from me. I don’t want to say more¨’ as it’s a movie best watched with no context beforehand.
Johansson doesn’t leave her character for a second. Everything she says and does feels calculatedly human but constantly distanced, as if she really was an alien life-form who has been studying the human race for years before mastering an almost perfect imitation.
I instantly reacted to how incredibly real some scenes felt, and this was confirmed when I later learnt that director Jonathan Glazer made the choice to have many scenes filmed secretly with hidden cameras. In addition, all scenes involving people interacting were heavily improvised, creating an even more natural vibe. It’s a unique movie, to say the least. A piece of art that some will love and more will hate. I for one loved it.
This is without a doubt my favourite horror movie of 2020. Brandon Cronenberg stepped up his game with his second feature film, creating something that absolutely transfixed me from beginning to end. Following his dad’s footsteps, Cronenberg created something highly conceptual and well executed on a shoestring budget.
Set in a near future, Possessor tells the story of a company that uses brain implant technology in order to take over human bodies and turn them into assassins. We follow agent Tasya Vos as the “enters into” different subjects, take over their bodies and carry out brutal assassinations. But being a possessor comes at a cost, as the line between two identities and realities easily becomes blurred.
An unforgettable gorefest that has you question your own identity long after watching it. Don’t let the haters fool you – watch this movie with an open mind. Possessor is a challenging movie, not only because of the brutal violence, but for the light it shines on humanity’s vile nature.
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