Let’s celebrate David Cronenberg’s birthday by immersing ourselves in the uncanny, gruesome, and occasionally dreamlike psychological horror universe of Dead Ringers (1988).
As the master of the Body Horror genre, Cronenberg always intertwines physical collapse with psychological disintegration in a way that unsettles the psyche. All of this is simultaneous with the unfolding of his characteristic fascination for the human body and the ghastly ways in which it can be corrupted for the purpose of symbolically exploring themes of alienation, repressed fears, and the mind-body duality.
In Dead Ringers, the uncanny theme of the double is hypnotically crystallised through the dual role of Jeremy Irons, who plays Beverly and Elliot, striking twins with the same profession, substantial character differences and taste, and moments of distress. Irons manages to breathe life into two striking gynaecologists with an unusual bond, offering an impressive, complex portrayal of each character’s dynamic inner and outer self as they eventually spiral down into psychological disintegration and insanity. It is even more impressive taking into account the psychopathology of the twins, who exhibit tendencies compatible with narcissism and covert narcissism.