Judge Daryl Loomis feels twins are best kept in separate cages.
They were born with a gift.
I was skeptical when I heard that the people behind the After Dark Horror Fest were going to go into production on original films. Seconds Apart is the third of their films that I've seen, though, and I must say that the label has quickly come to signify a certain level of quality. Like the other two, Seconds Apart isn't incredible horror, but it's a consistent film with some effective scares and a lot of violence. Plus, it's twins horror. Who doesn't find twins creepy?
Facts of the Case
When some of the most popular students at an exclusive Catholic school kill themselves in an extended round of Russian Roulette, Detective Lampkin (Orlando Jones, Evolution) is brought in to investigate. What seems like simple suicide becomes much more when Lampkin starts talking to Jonah and Seth (Edmund and Gary Entin, Rest Stop), a pair of reclusive twins with a video fetish. Mean and creepy as they seem, he can't pin anything on them. The more he learns about twins in general, though, the clearer he sees that these kids have powers beyond regular humans and now they're after him.
Twins make for quality horror if done right, but there are only two ways a filmmaker can go to make it work. They can go with special effects (best done in Dead Ringer), with one actor playing both roles, but this only works with a large budget and an actor capable of believably playing two characters at once. The other, for easier execution but much more difficult to find, is the rare set of twins who look uncannily similar and can actually act. Luckily, director Antonio Negret has the Entin brothers, who are excellent in their roles. They put on the synchronized stuff we expect pretty well, which always feels surreal, but as the movie progresses, they start to show enough differences in personality to completely separate them as individuals. Their gimmick is the ability to make people hallucinate whatever they see fit to make their victims kill themselves. They prey on their fellow classmates in the service of some ambiguous project, of which we never quite find out the details, but which makes for a lot of strange and bloody suicides, and I'd rather have the grue.
The twins take the lead, but the performances are pretty good on the whole. Everybody is generally likable, all too rare in horror today, and there are even some sweet moments between the characters. The most surprising performance comes from Orlando Hudson. This isn't his first try in a dramatic role, but he is considerably more credible as a cop with a dark past than I expected when I saw his name in the credits. Samantha Droke (The Neighbor) also deserves some credit in her role as Eve, the love interest who causes a schism between the twins. She doesn't have a lot of scenes, but makes the most of her time, drawing both sweetness and toughness out of her character, a lot more than many in her position that I've seen. Negret weaves these characters together very nicely, as well. Nobody is extraneous to the plot and there are no loose ends in the story. Anyone whose thread has not been resolved is dead and it leaves us with a finish that isn't thrilling at all, but clean and satisfying.
>From Lionsgate, this After Dark Original is a decent DVD, with nothing that makes it stand apart from the pack. The image looks good overall, with sharp detail and a good grain structure. The colors and black levels are both solid and the picture looks as good as one can expect from a film of this level. The disc comes with two audio tracks, one surround and the other stereo, and both sound almost the same. There's a small amount of added depth in the surround mix, but not enough to really make a difference. The only special feature is an audio commentary with director Negret and the Entin twins. It's informative and relatively interesting, but a little too self-congratulatory for my taste. It's a fine film, but not the great revelation they claim.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
There's only one thing that keeps me from really liking Seconds Apart. Maybe I'm petty, because it's such a small thing in the long run, but it truly bothers me. When the twins want to do their thing, they have to be in direct physical contact. There should be many ways for them to accomplish this, but instead of any one of those others, they touch hands and might as well be screaming "Wonder Twin powers, activate!" That's what I said every time while laughed and was pulled out of the movie, wondering if the director was too young to remember Super Friends or if this was some sort of strange joke.
That one thing aside, Seconds Apart is better than your average indie horror flick. The performances are solid and the effects are pretty good. Overall, we have another worthy slice of horror from the After Dark Originals series.
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