Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation | Release Date: September 23, 1988
4.9
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Mixed or average reviews based on 58 Ratings
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8
SpangleFeb 23, 2017
Directors of horror films or just weird movies in general tend to gravitate towards tales of identical or siamese twins. David Cronenberg is no different as he demonstrates in Dead Ringers. Based on a true story to a certain degree, the filmDirectors of horror films or just weird movies in general tend to gravitate towards tales of identical or siamese twins. David Cronenberg is no different as he demonstrates in Dead Ringers. Based on a true story to a certain degree, the film tells the story of Beverly and Elliott Mantle (Jeremy Irons), twin gynecologists who often pretend to be one another, even with women such as actress Claire Niveau (Genevieve Bujold). Unfortunately for them, this "pretending" is really a manifestation of their affliction: they are siamese twins that are not connected. Their bodies and souls are one, even if their brains go elsewhere. As a result, one becoming addicted to drugs has a detrimental effect on the duo. Featuring class Cronenberg psychology and body horror, Dead Ringers is a creepy and unsettling film from beginning to end.

Featuring Jeremy Irons in a tremendous dual role, Dead Ringers explores the inner working of the mind of a twin who is unmistakably connected to their twin. Messing with their mind and interfering with their daily lives, this connection is one neither is truly aware of or able to cope with. Irons plays these two tormented souls drifting between the calm, cool, and collected nature of them initially during undergrad and when they begin their careers to when their twisted insides and mutant nature interferes on their daily lives and turns both into dying drug addicts who have lost their minds. Deeply psychological, Irons convincingly brings to life the fractured nature of these men's psyches and deftly shows the impact it has on their daily lives with Claire or any of their patients.

Cronenberg, for his part, never truly exploits the situation or the afflictions of his character. Rather, as he is prone to do, he explores the difference. The mutant nature and convoluted interiors of a siamese/identical twin is on full display here, as well as the mental torment it can cause for a person. In exploring this dark side of the human mind, Cronenberg naturally finds a lot of horror and effectively delivers scares to the audience via the torment the characters go through. Above all, his trademark body horror comes into play throughout and at the very end. Surgery and gynecology are a natural fit for Cronenberg, especially when the men believe they are looking at mutant women with weird insides. This paranoia and weird bit of body horror is vintage Cronenberg in how he has fun with messing up the human body and finding horror by making the audience's skin crawl as weird surgical tools are used in operation or people are cut open. The film is very visceral in this front as can be expected. It is also where much of the horror can be found, particularly with the violent psychological body horror finale when Beverly tries to separate them as conjoined twins, even though they are not actually conjoined.

Messed up, twisted, and classic Cronenberg, Dead Ringers may not be nearly as effective in creating scares or messing with one's mind as some of his best work, but it does succeed in creating a creepy atmosphere for Jeremy Irons to have terrific fun with. Irons is creepy, weird, and oddly charismatic in the role as the two twins, playing two distinctly different people who just happen to share a deep, deep connection. This atmosphere lends itself to the excellent character study, writing, and embracing of the more psychological and twisted elements brought forth by the film. Though perhaps not as great of a study of the mind as his later film Spider, the film still explores this unique mental illness to chilling effect, making up for its "lesser" character study with more effective scares and chills. Though hardly one of Croneberg's weirder films, Dead Ringers is oddly reserved for this period in his career and, aside from a few gross out scenes, is largely far more mental and less focused on absurd elements such as the underground. Instead, Dead Ringers is about the connection between twins seen through the eyes of a master of body horror. The end result is just as good as one could expect.
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2
NikolayGNov 26, 2016
A ponderously slow moving thriller with no real plot. Nothing really happens until the end, and what does finally happen makes no sense. I think this movie got attention because Jeremy Irons played two roles and in 1988 it was a complexA ponderously slow moving thriller with no real plot. Nothing really happens until the end, and what does finally happen makes no sense. I think this movie got attention because Jeremy Irons played two roles and in 1988 it was a complex matter to double a person on screen; it also gave Jeremy irons about twice as much screen time as any other actor gets when in a leading role, so it was a big opportunity for him to show off his acting range. But simply as a movie to watch and enjoy for the story it tells, there is absolutely nothing here to see. Life is short. Give this a pass. Expand
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9
talisencrwJul 12, 2016
Sheer brilliance. Deep down, EVERYONE has a love/hate thing about identical twins. On the one side, they wish they had that kind of communion with someone, that sort of magical intimacy they share, having someone basically the exact same asSheer brilliance. Deep down, EVERYONE has a love/hate thing about identical twins. On the one side, they wish they had that kind of communion with someone, that sort of magical intimacy they share, having someone basically the exact same as themselves...yet that same one-of-a-kind companionship is scary as hell.

I haven't seen, from my fellow Canadian, either 'Scanners' (1981) or 'Naked Lunch' (1991), so I can't honestly say whether or not my assertion can be thus extended, but I dare ANYONE to find in horror a finer run than Cronenberg had, in 'Videodrome', 'The Dead Zone', 'The Fly'...and this, 'Dead Ringers'.
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7
lasttimeisawJul 15, 2013
Cronenberg’s unsettling denuding of an identical twins’ inseparability wreaks controversy in its in-depth protrusion of psychiatric delusion and drug abuse, Jeremy Irons, plays the Mantle twins, both gynecologists and live together, evenCronenberg’s unsettling denuding of an identical twins’ inseparability wreaks controversy in its in-depth protrusion of psychiatric delusion and drug abuse, Jeremy Irons, plays the Mantle twins, both gynecologists and live together, even perversely share the same woman. Albeit their mirror-image resemblance, Beverly is the shy boffin while Elliot is the gregarious mouthpiece who is astute and dedicative in taking care of his younger brother’s every need, after meeting a sterile actress (Claire) who has a mutant vagina, Beverly irrationally falls for her and slowly he becomes drug-addictive and paranoid (cause and effect), and even Elliot couldn’t rescue him, a finally unhinged Beverly slips into the abyss and tragedy is irrevocable.

Irons offers a tour-de-force engagement by splitting himself into two disparate roles, initially one wonders how could we tell them separately, and 5 minutes later, one will realize how distinguishable they are, Beverly is a meek soul, his life orbit is dominated and regulated by Elliot, who is sensible enough to admit they are an entity since neither of them could live without each other, nonetheless, the equilibrium has fatefully been violated by the interloper Claire, Bujold is feisty and emanates a of independence and vulnerability which fatally enchants Beverly and triggers his downhill of the separation procedure. The midstream of the film deals with the decomposition of Beverly’s mental stability has damped down by a slightly tedious script, which is wanting some explicable introductions to the mayhem it has caused, but the coda does save the pathos and it is mesmerizing and gives a sucker punch to the gut.

Cronenberg’s films often leave me some bitter aftertaste, last year’s COSMOPOLIS (2012, 4/10) is beyond my interpretation, but DEAD RINGERS has its integral breakdown of a psychosexual drama, and fanboys will be exulted to indulge in Cronenberg’s signature chimerical shots (sundering the umbilical cord, the surgery ceremony in vermillion with a set of eerie apparatus) and there are magical contrivances to put two Jeremy Irons present in the same frames (deeming its pre-computer era), accolades should be also awarded to the film’s steadfast emotion liberation, which encroaches inches by inches into the subliminal conscious of its protagonists, a compelling piece of work rests higher on the shelf than Cronenberg’s other lesser creations.
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4
BlakePNov 1, 2012
I'm probably in the minority here, but I felt the bleak, intense, and all too gory "Dead Ringers" is too twisted for its own good. Cronenberg directs with style and it exemplifies his skill as a director, and Irons gives two, distinct andI'm probably in the minority here, but I felt the bleak, intense, and all too gory "Dead Ringers" is too twisted for its own good. Cronenberg directs with style and it exemplifies his skill as a director, and Irons gives two, distinct and excellent characterizations, but all the gloominess makes it no fun. Collapse
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9
MrJOct 25, 2006
Captivating and depressing in the best way. So sad, you can feel the heartbreak of the brothers, and the sadness is that the heartbreak is for each other, and not the girl. Astonishing, beautiful, sad, brilliant.
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3
D&KH.Jul 8, 2006
Nothing was great about this movie. It did not "pull me in".
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10
AustinC.Dec 10, 2005
Captiating from the opening score, the movie is a masterpiece.
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6
BillyO.Jan 3, 2004
It was very strange and interesting but there wasn't much plot. Nothing happened. The brothers had sex with the same girl and they then both became drug addicts. That is about the entire movie.
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