It sounds so familiar: A young woman, swept off her feet by an older man, arrives at her fairy tale castle of an ultra-modern house. Everything in it is hers, even the money in the safe — but there is one room where she is not allowed to go.
But, of course, she looks. And finds something horrible.
As I said, very familiar. Although it isn’t quite as familiar when her genius husband murders her…
And she arrives at the “castle” again only a few weeks later.
Generally, most reviewers have noted that this is essentially an SF version of the old Bluebeard legend, with not a roomful of dead brides, but a freezer full of cloned copies.
However, what we have here is an intense, three player drama in a confined but elegant setting and I was most of the way through the film before I really realized that they’d had Ex Machina in the back of their mind when they crafted this film. It’s isn’t a slavish copy, but the influence is obvious once you spot it.
But I don’t suppose most people will, although mostly for the rather trivial reason that, unlike some of the other films influenced by Ex Machina, like The Machine or Uncanny (2015), this one centers around cloning rather than androids.
Despite its inspirations, this is a film which stands on its own. It is creepy and subtle, with one uncomfortable revelation emerging after another as Elizabeth gradually learns the truth — a truth which continues to unravel even after she has survived the first attempt on her life and which goes far deeper than we expect.
And one of the best moments of the film comes when we finally learn the meaning of the title.
Ciarán Hinds is superb as the husband, of course, and Carla Gugino gets a major minor part. Elizabeth, fortunately , is mostly blank, so it doesn’t matter as much that she’s played by a model.
The end result is a clever, slow burn SF horror film, best suited to those who like their horror subtle and intellectual. It is definitely worth a look, although if you’re expecting lots of random slayings and guts thrown at the screen, then you won’t be happy with this one.
You’ll have to decide that one yourself.
Or leave it to your clone.