aka Cloned: The Recreator Chronicles
Director/Screenplay – Gregory Orr, Producers – Lynn Appelle & Gregory Orr, Photography – David Tumblety, Music – Jeff Carruthers & Rick Conrad, Visual Effects Supervisor – Randy S. Little, Visual Effects – Gingerbreadman, Special Effects Supervisor – Drew Jiritano, Production Design – Mary Glenn Frederickson. Production Company – Recreator Labs, LLC/Tax Credit Finance, LLC.
Stella Maeve (Tracy Bernstein), Alexander Paul Nifong (Craig Carlson), Jamal Mallory-McCree (Derek Johnson), John de Lancie (Dr Frank Miller), Laura Moss (Elizabeth Miller)
Tracy, her boyfriend Craig and his long-time friend Derek row over to Brewster Island to go camping. As a storm hits, they seek refuge in an uninhabited house they find on the island. The next morning, they panic as the couple who live there return and hide in the cellar – only to discover dead bodies there. They are then discovered by the couple who force them to dig graves for the bodies – to then find that the bodies are duplicates of the couple. They are saved from the fate in store for them as the couple are despatched by nude duplicates of the three of them. These have been created by an automated cloning process in an abandoned laboratory on the island. Trying to come to terms with their own copies, the three of them find that the duplicates have been made smarter and more calculating and that they are intending to kill them off and take their place.
Recreator – that’s the name on the film’s credits, although the IMDB insists that it is called Cloned: The Recreator Chronicles – was a debut film for Gregory Orr. Orr had previously worked as a director/writer on numerous documentaries for the A&E and Discovery Channels.
Low-budget films with unknown directors and casts are like placing a bet on a racehorse selected at random – you have no idea or advance indication as to whether it is going to be any good. Usually such a random selection goes nowhere but sometimes you end up being surprised. The sole name of recognition here is John de Lancie, best known as Q on the various modern Star Trek series, although he is some way down the cast list. Recreator however ends up as one of those random shots in the dark that gently surprises.
Orr has economically restricted the entire drama to fairly much three characters (albeit two of each) contained on one island (plus two other people who do turn up for a few scenes near the start). The characterisations are all well drawn. We go through the group’s arrival, their tentative venture into the house and then the return of John de Lancie and Laura Moss before the decidedly WTF moment where they are forced to dig a grave for the bodies in the cellar and the plastic is unwrapped to reveal that it is duplicates of de Lancie and Moss, before the even more WTF moment where naked versions of themselves appear and despatch the couple. All of this arrives at a rather pleasing place where you have no idea what is happening or even what is likely to occur next.
The story starts to become even more interesting when we have the characters and their doubles playing off each other – where Stella Maeve #2 reveals to Alexander Paul Nifong #1 that Stella #1 wanted to break up with him and then promptly seduces him, whereupon Stella #1 retaliates by getting friendly with and eventually seducing Alexander #2. The effects work that allows the various actors and their doppelgangers to mingle and play off each other as separate characters is easily as good as it is in more high-profile films such as Dead Ringers (1988), Enemy (2013) and The One I Love (2014). The psychological games as they navigate around one another are well done and the performances, especially from Stella Maeve, very good.
The only real problem the film has is coming up with much of a rationale as to why this is happening. I get that a cloning device on the island was activated but why would this cause the clones to emerge as physically and mentally superior and emotionally cold and manipulative? Even given that that might have been a side effect of the process, why do the clones emerge as instantaneous copies of the originals right down to the same identical haircuts? (Even though it is a genetic duplicate of the donor, a clone has to go through the process of being born and growing up in the same way that a normal human does). The film does arrive at a cold and chilling twist ending that comes with a rather nasty fate for one of the characters.