Neil Breen’s “Twisted Pair,” a crazed fever dream of a movie, written by, directed by and starring Breen, had a screening at the Capitol Theatre in Gordon Square on Tuesday. The poorly animated green screens, the shots that last far too long after the dialogue is over and a ridiculous story that is difficult to decipher make “Twisted Pair” one of the weirdest and most enjoyable experiences I have had in a movie theater.
Breen established himself as a cult film legend with his 2013 film “Fateful Findings.” His movies all follow a similar structure. He stars as a superpowered protagonist who wishes to rid the world of evil, which usually takes the form of corrupt politicians, CEOs or insurance agents. The movie, like of all Breen’s works, stars the director himself. In this film he plays the twins Cade and Cale.
One of the brothers, Cade, is virtuous, while the other, Cale, is a criminal. Both brothers try to eradicate evil but go about it in different ways. Cade works for some mysterious quasi-governmental agency while Cale is a vigilante, kidnapping three white-collar criminals and torturing them.
Watching the hour and a half long movie feels like being an amnesiac who is being assaulted by memories that have little relation to one another and is trying to piece them into a coherent whole. The movie includes a discussion about artificial intelligence, as the brothers have been augmented by advanced technology, and some talk of a corrupt digital reality, but neither of the discussions really go anywhere.
Breen throws out the concept of genre. In a movie that feels like sci-fi, there’s a fairy character that has no dialogue and no actions. I cannot confirm that it is a fairy, as it is merely a woman in a fairy Halloween costume, but considering that an evil businessman has cat figurines on his desk that move around for no reason, I have to assume that the supernatural does exist in the Breen universe.
When Cade speaks to the evil businessman who is plotting to take over the world, the fairy is present but does not do anything. She later reappears standing by a television playing a different Breen film for one or two minutes before she vanishes.
Breen’s costumes often resemble an elementary school costume party more than a feature film; one businessman has a fake mustache made of Scotch tape—yes, Scotch tape—with brown marker scribbles on it. The fake beards are instantly recognizable by how light reflects off their metallic sheen.
The special effects feel like iMovie explosions with pre-recorded gunshots accompanying the action. Additionally, the setting is supposed to be the secret headquarters of a terrorist organization that Cade infiltrates, but the key card access scanners, class schedules on the wall and a flyer for Handshake give it away as a college campus.
The amateur effects and costumes are part of the fun of a Breen movie. “Twisted Pair” cannot be watched like a traditional film. If you compare Breen to Wes Anderson, you’re doing it wrong, since Breen is part of a different tradition of filmmakers.
Breen is working in the B movie midnight pulp tradition of directors like Ed Wood in the 1950s or Tommy Wiseau. What makes those two directors so memorable, from Wiseau’s “The Room,” to Wood’s “Plan 9 from Outer Space,” is how the films create a unique audience experience. Instead of passively sitting back and watching as the chaos unfolds on screen, the audience is compelled to interact with what is on display.
The audience interaction is partially an attempt to regain the collective sanity lost once the mind is wiped clean by the sight of Breen teleporting away from expositions or attempting to pet an eagle, but actually petting the log it sits on, straight from nature documentary stock footage.
The audience at the Capitol Theater constantly made jokes at the movie, yelled out references to previous Breen movies, tried to make sense of the plot and tried to predict what would happen next. There are few things that bring strangers together like a Breen film. A group of strangers trading barbs and speculations from across the pitch black theater is quite an experience.
For most movies, this kind of behavior would be rightly considered rude, but at a B movie, rudeness becomes a necessary part of the spectacle. “Twisted Pair” does not have the quality plot, acting and cinematography we should expect from a professional film. However, if the goal of entertainment is to connect with the audience and leave viewers as a slightly different people than when they walked in, then “Twisted Pair” succeeds.
Breen closes the movie by saying he will always be in our hearts. He’s right but maybe not for the reason he intended.
Rating: I’m Feeling Less Stable/I Believe I’ve Cured Katharine’s Cancer
Company Breen Films LLC
Director Neil Breen