26th Aug2020

Fantasia 2020: ‘Doppelbanger’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Gibson Frazier, Annapurna Sriram | Written and Directed by Sofian Khan

A short story about sex work in a future-looking world where people have robotic doubles of themselves, Doppelbanger sees George’s (Gibson Frazier, Unsane) robotic sex worker breaks down on him during sex and he has to embarrassingly contact its owner, and double, Cecilia (Annapurna Sriram, The Blacklist) for help. Not the ideal situation to meet a woman you’d quite like a relationship with!

Surprisingly shot in black and white, this works for this style and makes Doppelbanger look like a futuristic old movie. The short scenes shot outside of the building are most impressive visually because of the use of black and white. Because of the story, I assume this is set in the future and the futuristic style home looks great. If the budget was low for this, the filmmakers have done a great job making the world it is set in look impressive and believable.

Doppelbanger is smart and well written with both actors putting in impressive performances. They show good chemistry and the characters probably shouldn’t work together but one scene set on the stairs (as they try to discreetly carry the robot away) draws you into the possible relationship and this sets up one of the final scenes nicely. Speaking of which, the final scene itself is the only one that gets a musical score, and it helps make it the most dramatic and daring moment. There’s one excellent use of slow-motion and despite no blood, the score, cinematography and acting create a brutal-looking moment.

This is not only a very good short film, Doppelbanger is a great idea for a full feature that could go one of several ways. This could easily be the opening scene to a film that does not involve these characters again. It just sets up what this world is like and the main concept. But it could also expand on these two characters and their relationship, which is immediately intriguing. How would they meet again and what would happen between them when they do?

There’s much to enjoy in less than fifteen minutes of screen time but writer and director, Sofian Khan has produced something I’d like to see more of. A sci-fi short that is less about spaceships or creatures from another world and more about technology and the good or harm it may do. Not unlike an episode of Black Mirror, Doppelbanger is a twisted look at our future.

**** 4/5

Doppelbanger screens as part of this years Fantasia Festival, which takes place Aug 20th – Sept 2nd 2020. The short film is also going live worldwide on the DUST platform on September 8th.


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