Neil Breen, one of America’s few truly independent filmmakers, has released the trailer for his newest feature film, Twisted Pair, which shows off some truly outrageous effects, shadowy figures, jargon about DNA, virtual reality, and what looks like a very evil twin in a very evil beard. According to the director, the highly anticipated film concerns “identical twin brothers [who] become hybrid A.I. Artificial Intelligence, entities, yet are torn in different directions to achieve justice for humanity.” Sounds straightforward enough!
Twisted Pair will be Breen’s fifth feature film, following 2016’s Pass Thru and his breakout 2013 film Fateful Findings. Breen is known as a cult filmmaker, but rejects the idea that his movies, which he directs, writes, produces, and stars in, are to consumed as midnight-movie fare. Still, the appeal of his films is grounded in their incredibly outré sense of, well, everything. And since he has been putting out a new film every few years, he has amassed a significant body of work with an odd, sometimes shocking, and deeply fascinating perspective on the world.
Breen denies having any major artistic influences, but he is clearly interested in commercial filmmaking with an artistic bent; the grand sweep of Terrence Malick and the anxiety of David Lynch are two possible reference points. But unlike whatever movies inspire him, Breen’s films seem totally untethered by the standards that allow those films to “work” in the traditional sense. Things like “plot,” “character,” “coherence,” and “taste,” are all suspended into a kind of celluloid-jelly where the rules of more traditional filmmaking no longer apply and a movie can be about everything at once.
In Fateful Findings, for example, the story concerns a physically broken man searching for his spiritual center, his relationship to his pill-addicted wife, and a mysterious, recently returned childhood sweetheart—but branches out into questions of authorship, the ethics of psychology, religion, suicide, murder, family relationships, sexy teens, corporate secrets, a conspiracy at the heart of all government, and also magic.
In watching the trailer for Twisted Pair, you may be tempted to compare Breen to Tommy Wiseau, the creator of The Room, and those comparisons are perhaps inevitable. Still, Breen deserves to be considered outside the context of that movie and its success, because Breen’s movies are fundamentally more ambitious than Wiseau’s. He’s also a very different kind of director, one who creates movies at a workmanlike pace, while Wiseau is mostly a career famous person.
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