I am not a particularly religious person. A doctrine that invites self-flagellation is not for me, who needs to find reasons to punish themselves? Not me. That being said, people like to punish themselves even if it is in a roundabout way. Some drink too much, some take drugs, others are risk takers, lovers of danger. There is also the punishment of avoidance, not doing things or taking an easier path. This is, perhaps, the most common self-punishment.
Like many people, I am guilty of the ‘easier path’ of self-punishment, though there is one ‘punishment’ that I inflict on myself. Like most self-inflicted punishment, it hides itself as being good for you. My own, personal, self-inflicted, punishment, is films. Bad films to be precise.
Downward Twins or Twinsanity, as it is called on Netflix, is a film about identity and self. Celeste and Leann Hart are identical twin sisters who run a yoga business together. Celeste is the teacher and Leann the business brains. Just before they are to open a new yoga studio, their mother dies and they go home to sort out their affairs. Their mother was the only person who could ever tell them apart.
Leann, the more dominant of the two, bullies Celeste. She is the driving force behind their yoga venture, Celeste just does yoga for the love of the discipline, something she took up after an accident she had as a child damaged her spine. Celeste begins to feel that she needs to pull away from her sister.
Back in their old home town, Celeste finds a yoga studio, run by the charismatic Sergio (Yves Bright), and goes alone. Leann finds out and goes to the studio the next day before Celeste can get there. Celeste, turning up the next day at the studio to do the class, sees her sister and leaves unseen.
Jack (Matt Mercer), an ex-boyfriend of Celeste, mistakes Leann for Celeste. Leann, going along with his mistake, meets up with him as Celeste and has sex with him in an alley. Celeste, who had seen her sister sneak out, follows her and sees her encounter with Jack. When Leann returns home the next morning, Celeste has gone. She leaves Leann a note listing the yoga moves she needs for the class.
Leann begins to panic with Celeste not taking any of her calls. Leann tries to carry on the business without Celeste. It does not go well. Celeste, meanwhile, is getting closer to Sergio and the yogis that follow him. She makes friends with Rita (Angie Everhart), a mother trying to get her own life together.
Celeste tells Sergio about her sister. He tells her that Leann is a part of her and she needs to embrace that. Celeste calls Leann to tell her she is not coming back. Leann begs her to return but Celeste refuses. Leann has a mental breakdown. She is determined to find Celeste.
Sergio takes the group on a yoga retreat and in the evening they all drink a hallucinogenic tea whilst sitting in a tent. Celeste begins to see Leann everywhere. She runs from the tent. Leann has found the retreat and takes Celeste place during the confusion of the tea. She goes to Rita and as they talk, Rita realises something is wrong. Leann kills Rita. She goes and finds Sergio. Sergio does not realise that it is not Celeste and Leann kills him as well.
Celeste catches up with her homicidal sister and they argue. Leann knocks her unconscious. When Celeste regains consciousness, she is in a van with her sister and they are heading out of town. Leann is talking about changing their names and starting over. Celeste forces her to pull off the road, coming to a halt near a ledge overlooking the beach, and they fight in the van.
Leann best her sister, telling her that she can take as much pain as she can give out. Celeste, seeing no other option, drives the van off of the ledge. A year passes and Celeste survived the crash. She sells the family home and leaves. The end.
The twin or doppelgänger trope in film is so popular, especially in the horror/thriller genres. Twinsainty – or Downward Twin, both titles are awful – uses actual real-life twins, Karissa and Katie Strain, as the warring sisters. They are an attractive pair and entirely watchable. Katie, who plays the deranged Leann, overdoes it as the crazy sister, the scenes when she’s acting alone almost cringe-worthy.
The story is standard doppelgänger, twin, mistaken identity fare, with Katie’s Leann taking advantage of having the same face as her less threatening sister. The yoga backdrop is just irritating, with only Angie Everhart’s Rita coming off as natural. Yves Bright’s Sergio lacks the niceness of presence that would be required for you to be affected by his death.
With so few characters for Leann to go crazy on, she does not get the opportunity to build up to full-on crazy, basically snapping as soon as her sister tells her she is not coming back. The director, Buz Wallick, decides to use some cheap camera effects for disorientation rather than letting Karissa act when she is coming around after the tent scene. The rest of his direction is not much better, relying on cheap effects to raise interest.
The story and script by Julian Broudy is pretty rubbish. There is an opening scene that has nothing at all to do with the rest of the film, with Mr Arnold (Myles Cranford) coming upon the white van and commotion of the two sisters fighting. We then get the dread ‘two weeks earlier’ title card. We’re supposed to pay attention to the shitty, foreboding lines he spouts about two plants not being able to grow together. Bollocks. It adds nothing to the film, nothing at all.
The music is pure made for television standard, a constant faux foreboding about it. Sometimes it just gets in the way of the dialogue. The climatic crash scene is woeful and is the perfect ending to a film this poor. Twinsanity, a really stupid name for a film, is mediocre on just about every level. Watch only if you have an obsession with twins. You still won’t enjoy it.