Riley Stearns’ Dual introduces us to a world that is, for all intents and purposes, just like ours, except for one major difference: a cloning service called Replacement. After being diagnosed with a rare and incurable disease, Sarah (Karen Gillan) spends her final days teaching her clone how to live as her once she’s gone, because in this world, the most important thing is making sure that your loved ones don’t have to bother mourning your death.

The brusque way people speak about death is so disturbing that it’s quite comical at times. This particularly dark humour certainly won’t be for everyone, but it’s effectively executed by Gillan and Aaron Paul as Trent, who both use a  snappy and monotone delivery. The repartee between Gillan and Paul, whose deadpan manner is even better when they’re bouncing off one another, is endearing. As endearing as this film will allow, anyway. 

Despite these entertaining performances, Dual overall is very one-note, with its absurd humour relying on a shock factor which is steadily depleted. Sarah keeps the story grounded; when her emotions break through to the surface and we witness her frustration and hesitance over her death sentence, it’s reassuring, as everyone else seems to be utterly desensitised to their own mortality. But this is still not enough to overcome how such irreverence towards life becomes redundant. The final scene feels hollow and though this may be intentional, it’s underwhelming all the same.

Stearns’ Dual poses: is the life that we’re fighting so hard for really worth it in the end? Such a bleak landscape may be rattling, but the concept itself is fascinating, as it’s so far removed from reality in a lot of ways, but in others, chillingly similar.



CAST: Karen Gillan, Aaron Paul, Beulah Koale

DIRECTOR: Riley Stearns

WRITER: Riley Stearns

SYNOPSIS: Sarah’s last days will be spent teaching her clone how to live on once she’s gone.