Part Project X, part existential sci-fi head-scratcher with echoes of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Dennis Iliadis’ +1 (or Plus One) is a unique and endlessly entertaining addition to the teen comedy genre. With time travel and alternate realities tossed into the mix of hedonistic young partygoers doing body shots, engaging in public sex, and playing games of flaming tennis, it’s undoubtedly the weirdest exploration of teen angst and disaffection we’ve seen in a very long time, but the strength of +1 is that it doesn’t get too bogged down in a philosophical bent. Instead it asks you to sit back, enjoy the ride, and watch the most awesome and insane party ever.
Before we get to the epic bash we’re introduced to a cast of characters ripped right out of the Can’t Hardly Wait playbook. There’s unmotivated loverboy David (Rhys Wakefield), who has just been caught cheating by his sexy girlfriend Jill (Ashley Hinshaw), and now all he wants is to win her back, even if it means throwing himself at her mercy in the middle of a bunch of drunken party animals. Also present and accounted for is Allison (twins Colleen and Suzanne Dengel, dead ringers for Lauren Ambrose), a loner not all that hip to hanging with the cool kids; and Teddy (Logan Miller) who just wants to get laid. Iliadis doesn’t waste too much time digging into who these characters are because we recognize them instantly, either from our own lives or from gawking at hundreds of hours of teen comedies. While everybody is busy wallowing in their own problems, there’s the much bigger problem of an asteroid or something headed towards Earth. But who cares about something like that when you’re trying to get some tail?
The bulk of the film takes place at a bash to rival anything ever thrown at Jujyfruit’s (that’s a Nowhere reference for you Gregg Araki disciples), and the levels of excess are staggering to say the least. There’s a naked chick allowing sushi to be eaten off her body, dudes taking shots through their eyeballs, a neon-lit strip show and that’s just a fraction of it. Some guy might be dead on the couch, too. Oh, and there’s that asteroid again. Once it crashes the sh*t hits the fan real quick as the guests start multiplying, with their cloned doppelgangers reenacting the events from just a few minutes earlier. Every time a blackout hits, the clones move a little bit closer to the current time, but what happens then? Are they dangerous? Are they trying to take over the lives of the originals? Most are too hammered to even notice, but David sees it as a chance to fix his mistakes with Jill. It doesn’t really matter if it’s the real Jill, either. And Teddy sees the most awesome night of his life, scoring with the hottest chick in the house; get extremely weird when he has to watch his clone score too.
Part of the fun of +1 is watching how the various characters react to meeting their doubles. Some embrace it, others approach it with extreme caution, and a few have violence on their minds. The mystery of the clones’ true purpose builds to a suspenseful and exciting head, and Iliadis also knows how to have fun with the silly concept. That does seem to be the ultimate point, to merely have fun with the concept and remain light on details or explanation, and even when the film wraps up in a hail of self-mutilating violence there are no answers forthcoming. Wakefield has a long way to go to be anything other than a dude with a creepy grin, but Hinshaw is more convincing as the scorned Jill. +1 is loaded with house party chaos and it’s fun solely on that level, but the sci-fi elements could help make it a cult favorite.