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PRODUCTION Finland

The “Finnish Weird Wave” continues with Taneli Mustonen’s The Twin

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- After a triumphant foray into horror with 2016’s Lake Bodom, Mustonen and producer Aleksi Hyvärinen hope to repeat the success with the 1980s-infused The Twin

The “Finnish Weird Wave” continues with Taneli Mustonen’s The Twin
A promo image for The Twin

Directed by Taneli Mustonen, whose two The Reunion [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
 movies racked up almost 800,000 admissions at the local box office, and turning out to be one of the most popular works in development to emerge from this year’s Finnish Film Affair, the industry sidebar of the Helsinki International Film Festival – Love & AnarchyThe Twin tells the story of an American couple who decide to move to the Finnish countryside with their young son after a tragic accident. But what was supposed to help them get back on their feet as a family slowly starts to tear them apart. 

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“Around the time of Lake Bodom [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, we noticed there was already a demand for elevated horror. But a lot of sales agents and financiers immediately told us: ‘We don’t do genre’,” says producer Aleksi Hyvärinen, of Don Films, who is collaborating with Mustonen for the third time. “Now, only a few years later, it’s not the case any more. I feel there has been a change in attitudes.” The reason seems to be obvious – with such breakout hits as Hereditary and Get Out, the industry has clearly started to take notice. “A lot of people seem to feel that horror and comedy benefit the most from the cinematic experience. It’s cool to go to the cinema on a Friday night with your friends, and people recognise it – it’s a joint experience in a very physical way. These trends come and go, but genre and horror have been strong for a very long time.” 

With a reliance on a confined, twisted tale, rather than heavy CGI, The Twin promises to have a distinct 1980s feel. “[John D Hancock’s] Let’s Scare Jessica to Death is one of Taneli’s favourite films. We also talked a lot about Don’t Look Now and The Changeling [by Peter Medak] – basically, all the things we watched as kids. Back then, we were feasting on horror films. In the 1980s, many of them were banned in Finland, so there were all these VHS tapes and a secret ring that would pass them around. Getting to see a horror flick was a rare treat, but it’s not only about that. With Taneli, we are old buddies from the only academic film school in Finland – classically trained, you could say. So you can find both sides of it in this film. But The Twin is definitely in the vein of these classics, with the most obvious inspiration being Rosemary’s Baby, of course. Lake Bodom was also influenced by this period.”

Still, slated to be shot almost entirely in English, The Twin seems like a big departure from the previous movie, which was based on local mythology mostly unknown to viewers outside of the country. “In Finland, everyone knows about this murder case from the 1960s. It’s part of our national history. But funnily enough, it seemed to work outside of Finland as well,” Hyvärinen tells Cineuropa. “International viewers didn’t expect us to say who the killer was, for example – they came to see a different take on the slasher genre.” No wonder, then, that this time, the bar seems to have been raised even higher. “The bar is always high,” laughs the producer. “There are a lot of genre projects being developed in Finland, so we are lucky to be part of that phenomenon. We have the Nordic Genre Invasion and Nordic Genre Boost in Scandinavia, and the Night Visions Film Festival in Finland has been doing pioneering work for years. There is a lot more coming your way – we are just one little part of the Finnish Weird Wave.”

Co-written by both, The Twin will be directed by Taneli Mustonen and produced by Aleksi Hyvärinen, of Don Films, who was also involved in Boris Khlebnikov’s Arrhythmia [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Boris Khlebnikov
film profile
]
. Currently at the financing stage, and with a production budget of around €2.5 million, its release is scheduled for 2020.

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