Mild spoilers ahead!
Well folks, Neil Breen is back again with his latest insane rambling, Twisted Pair! This time the eccentric filmmaker has some new visual tricks up his sleeve, along with plenty of familiar tropes, of course. Faithful viewers will be shocked to discover that he’s finally mastered the art of freeze frame (well maybe not mastered, but he no longer asks his actors to try to stand motionless to pull off this effect).
‘Still’ Frames in Neil Breen movies: They are here…. Now.
As you’ve likely figured out, Breen means business this time around – playing not one, but TWO characters in the film. For Twisted Pair, he performs as both Cade and Cale Altair, twin brothers selected at a young age by a CGI, mannequin-faced stock-footage entity to cleanse the virtual reality world of corruption. This CGI god-thing gives Cade and Cale special powers in the virtual world that they can use to combat evil.
Powers including the ability to Mario-jump onto a pipe for no reason, then jump off the pipe to narrowly avoid an unjustified explosion.
Now this power is not to be taken lightly – Cade explains in his endless opening monologue that he’s been granted the the power of “A.I. Intelligence” (Or Artificial Intelligence Intelligence). His seaweed-salad of a brother Cale cannot handle all this responsibility, and his powers are stripped away by mannequin face. Cale soon becomes corrupt, and after gluing a fake beard to his face he becomes the very evil he was supposed to destroy. When Cade’s given the mission to take Cale down, he doubts his ability to hurt his brother. Of course, Twisted Pair is written with all the subtext and abstraction Neil Breen can muster, so this is my best interpretation of the premise… for the A-story, anyway.
This dark face with a glowing eye is the god of all “digital tribes.”
As with any Neil Breen movie, there’s an endless tirade of sub-plots that are complicated and confusing in Twisted Pair, including the story of a homeless man feeding peanuts to his rubber toy rats, as well as the story of the ‘other’ antagonist, whose name is Kooz (Couse? Cooz? Kews?). In any case, Kooz is a diamond collector with some sort of terrorist plot that Cade needs to stop by blowing up a boiler room. He enjoys fondling a jar of diamonds and speaking with a digitally modified voice (he sounds like a ransom tape) that is completely unintelligible.
Now what makes Twisted Pair most confusing is that the line between ‘virtual reality’ and ‘the real world’ is never defined, so it’s impossible to tell from one scene to the next whether this is taking place in a digital world or not. I think things like Kooz’s modified voice are supposed to be clues for the viewer, but with Neil Breen’s history of abstract pretentiousness, anything unusual in the film may be a thematic flourish. It’s impossible to know for sure what the man is thinking, so deep is his genius.
Observe the modest genius in his natural habitat.
Now my favorite of the b-plots is the development of Breen’s bizarre relationship with his girlfriend. After he bumps into her while walking down the street, he apologizes profusely, as if he just ran her over with a car instead of brushing by her as they walked. He insists that he has to make it up to her – that he will meet her at that exact spot at eight o’clock to take her for dinner.
Pictured: Women’s response to Neil Breen in the real (and virtual) world.
When Breen returns to this random stretch of sidewalk hours later, he’s so stunned when she’s not there that he actually says, out loud, “It’s eight o’clock! I can’t believe she didn’t show up!”
It gets worse though – he sees her again later and follows her home. That’s right, the man thinks it’s acceptable to just walk right into her house and sit on her couch. She fights with him for a while…. before they start cuddling, and then she tells him his mother called earlier (she knows his mom, I guess?). The woman goes from adversarial to complacent in an instant. Now whatever the hell happened here, I can’t be sure, but I’m thinking it’s one of three things. They may already be a couple, and this is some kind of role play they do to keep things spicy. Or maybe the CGI god-thing gave him powers to manipulate people, and he Jedi mind tricked her into becoming his girlfriend (let’s hope it’s not this one). Or maybe the interaction on the street was real life, and Cale recreated her in virtual reality, so the digital version would like him more. Whatever the explanation, they’re all creepy as fuck.
What’s most surprising about Twisted Pair is what’s missing from the film: the Nevada desert. That’s right. There are no drone shots of Neil Breen spinning in the sand. No running up and down a mountain. The iconic landscape of Breen movies has been replaced with a college campus this time around. Breen evidently rented out space at the school and he attempts to pass off every location as some sort of terrorist research facility. No effort is made to cover the signs on the doors though, making it clear that he’s just in a campus laboratory, computer lab, and boiler room.
Breen makes up for the lack of desert shots by blowing up every inch of the campus he’s rented.
I’d also like to point out poor placement of stock music in Twisted Pair. We’re all familiar with Breen overusing stock footage, and this movie is no exception. But with the music, he’s chosen to use and reuse a track with a deep bass “Bwaaaaaahhhhhhhh!” (think Inception) at random intervals. Rather than placing the music strategically, the booming “BWAHHHHH” always hits at random and inappropriate moments, like in the middle of a mundane conversation. The contrast is unintentional comedy at its best.
In his downtime, I suspect Breen’s been watching Marvel movies, because the final moments of Twisted Pair reveal an incredible secret…. spoilers ahead, you’ve been warned. Following all of Neil’s fake production company credits in the end crawl, the words ‘Cade Altair will return’ scroll by on-screen – which means that Mr. Breen is going in a very new direction with his first ever SEQUEL already planned out. I can only hope Cade discovers he has another brother, and that he’s actually a triplet in Twisted Trio.
We’ll find out in a couple years, I suppose!
Breen film screenings are always a blast, and the Toronto premiere of Twisted Pair at The Royal Cinema last week was no exception. The audience is great, the theatre is spectacular – there’s no better way to see this kind of movie. If you’re a Toronto local and you want to see the film (or see it a second time), they’ve added a second screening on October 22nd – it sold out the first time around, so don’t miss it, get your tickets now!