Director – Antonio Negret, Screenplay – George Richards, Producers – Moshe Diamant & Courtney Solomon, Photography – Yaron Levy, Music – Lior Rosner, Visual Effects – Post Mango (Supervisor – Sean Findley), Special Effects Supervisor – Neil Stockstill, Production Design – Hannah Beachler. Production Company – After Dark Films/Signature Pictures/Seconds Apart Productions, LLC/Autonomous Films, LLC.
Orlando Jones (Detective Lampkin), Edmund Entin (Jonah Trimble), Gary Entin (Seth Trimble), Samantha Droke (Eve), Morgana Shaw (Rita Trimble), Louis Herthum (Owen Trimble), Marc Macaulay (Father Frank Zinselmeyer), James Dumont (Hardesty), Jennifer Foreman (Katie Dunn), David Jensen (Dr Houska), Rusty Tennant (Kirby LaFleur), Dane Rhodes (Wormwood), Leticia Jimenez (Maybel Lampkin)
New Orleans police detective Lampkin investigates a case where a group of jocks from a local Catholic school killed themselves at a party in a game of Russian Roulette. His investigation points towards the twin brothers Seth and Jonah Trimble who were seen entering the scene with a video camera. Seth and Jonah have incredible psychic powers whenever they hold hands, including the ability to control minds. They are engaged in a series of experiments where they use their mental abilities to force people to act in ways that kill them while they film the results. As Lampkin investigates, the brothers act to eliminate those they see as having betrayed them. At the same time, Jonah becomes attracted to another schoolgirl Eve and his desire to not share her with Seth causes a rift between the two brothers.
Seconds Apart was one of the films selected for the 2011 After Dark horror festival. It gained a good deal of word of mouth and placed the name of newcomer director, the Colombian-born Antonio Negret, on the map. Negret had debuted with the thriller Towards Darkness (2007) and subsequently went onto make the action thrillers Transit (2012) and Overdrive (2017).
There have been films about twins before – see everything from good twin/bad twin films like Among the Living (1941), Dead Ringer (1964), The Mark of Cain (1985) and Meridian (1990), identity confusion thrillers like Scissors (1990) and The Tiger’s Tail (2006), comic treatments like Twins (1988) to horror films such as The Other (1972), Gemini (1999) and David Cronenberg’s masterful Dead Ringers (1988). However, none of these have ventured into the supposed claims of shared telepathy between twins – Seconds Apart would seem to be the first film on this particular topic as far as one is aware unless you go to the unserious treatment of Basket Case (1982) and sequels. (For an overview of the topic see Twins in Fantastic Cinema). The casting of real-life twins Edmund and Gary Entin results in a particularly chilling duo of performances in the way the two of them act in unison and react to events with a disturbing detachment.
Antonio Negret gives the film a great opening on a school party where a group of jocks are sitting around playing a drinking game. Without warning, this turns into a game of Russian Roulette where, without pausing in the games, the jocks pass around a gun, put in their mouths and spin the chamber, in most cases blowing their heads off. The effect of the scene is in how none of this seems to alter the jocular tone of the drinking game, the participants failing to react as they are splattered with blood, even calmly reaching down to pick up the gun from a dead person’s hand.
There is another fine scene where the twins approach the headmaster (Marc Macaulay) and talk about a tapeworm that was in his leg in the tropics and he starts agonising in pain as one of the twins starts unwinding the tapeworm around a pen, where Negret’s camera disconcertingly keeps switching point-of-view between the tapeworm coming out of the knee and the twin sitting twisting a pen with nothing around it. There is another grimly effective scene where they push Jennifer Foreman to believe that she is hearing the voice of her father asking her to join him as she sits in the library, before she stands and slashes her throat.
These are scares that hold the assurance of a director who has been working long in the genre and knows how to play with an audience and generate maximum effect. The disappointment is that Antonio Negret seems to prefer to work in the thriller genre and crime film – certainly, if he chooses to return, he would have a great future in horror.
Negret shoots the film with washed-out photography and a coolly subdued quiet. The complaint might be that Seconds Apart is almost entirely composed around the series of set pieces where the twins kill people with their abilities. It is not until towards the end that the mystery surrounding who they are and their abilities kicks in. That said, the film does arrive at a particularly clever and adept ending that unites all of the happenings throughout into a dazzlingly logical explanation involving an elaborate series of psychic illusions.
Certainly within these scenes, the dialogue is coolly measured and written with precision. There is a particularly chill way that they casually litter personal information they have dug from within people’s heads during conversations – one of the twins taunting Orlando Jones with information about his wife or the parents throwing in mention of the snowglobe in Orlando Jones’s dream during his visit to them. Orlando Jones, an actor one had only seen in comedy roles previously, never seems the most natural and at ease in the role of a burned out and obsessed detective.