The mini-series remake of David Cronenberg’s cult film confirms that there are still some things that are better not to touch. The new take on the disturbing SF-horror-psychological drama about the identical Mantle twins took a completely different path than the original, although the basic premise is still identical. Beverly and Elliot Mantle are now no longer men (played by Jeremy Irons in the original), but women, identical twins who are top gynecologists and artificial insemination experts. They no longer work in a clinic in Toronto, but in New York, both have slightly irritating British accents, and both are played by the famous actress Rachel Weisz.
In fact, everything initially suggested that the new version of “Dead Ringers” could be a hit. The script was written by Alice Birch, who, after the quality drama “Lady Macbeth” with Florence Pugh, is the author of the excellent Irish mini-series “Normal People”, and “Dead Ringers” starts almost as a bizarre and somewhat strange black comedy, a grotesque and cynical satire. And while the domineering Elliot is a pragmatic and cynical opportunist, a few seconds younger, withdrawn and self-effacing Beverly seems like an idealist. Although they are both forty years old, they still live together and cannot live without each other, it works like a sick symbiosis.
Once again, it is Elliot who is in charge of seducing and passing on the partner or in this case the partner to the younger sister. But the situation will get complicated when Beverly starts a relationship with the young actress Genevieve and Elliot thinks that this relationship might work and that his sister might leave her for love. Physically identical, but completely different in character, the sisters want to open a clinic that would completely revolutionize the way of giving birth, for which they will need investors, and there they will find a family that got rich selling opioids. The representative of that family is the cold and callous Rachel (Jennifer Ehle), and soon we will get to know the whole grotesque family.
In the footsteps of Cronenberg’s model, everything here is twisted, grotesque, completely dehumanized and the young actress Genevieve (who has the main role in the remake of Cronenberg’s horror “Rabid”) acts as the only person who could be called at least approximately human, she decided to go Birch in a completely different way from the old Canadian. Thus, “Dead Ringers” could now only marginally be called a body horror, and it is more of a twisted psychological drama / thriller, a grotesque social satire wrapped in rather disturbing dark humor. Although that idea in itself is not bad and something like that is always much better for me than simply rewriting the original, it was left somehow unfinished and I was missing something there.