A series of child kidnappings and murders has the people of Taiwan on edge. Someone is stealing children off the street, children with birth defects and disabilities, and killing them in horrific ways. When the latest victim of this killer is the young son of a congressmen, a daring new plan to catch them is put into place.
However, things take a turn when a bus with several key witnesses and suspects crashes, killing everyone on board. A scientist working on an advanced new technique manages to scan the brain patterns of the people on the bus and loads their minds into the body of a coma patient in a vegetative state. Now the police are able to question the suspects as they take control of the new body they find themselves in.
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Whilst most of the minds are uncooperative, one of the suspects seems to be able to see flashes of memories from the others, and believes that he’s onto the trail of the killer. Making a deal with the detectives, to get the body to himself as well as getting the chance to see his daughter, he agrees to help with the case. But with the killer inside the same body, and making things difficult for everyone, it’s not going to be easy finding the answers that everyone needs.
Plurality is a film with a pretty bold premise, and one that wasn’t particularly clear to begin with. We see the police interrogating several people, before the surprise revelation that they’re in the same body. This shock moment comes only a few minutes into the movie, and sets out early that this is going to be a film that plays with expectations.
I’ve seen the film being described as Taiwan’s version of Split, but this seems to be a very surface level comparison. Whilst yes, there are multiple people inside one body, and one of them is a killer, this film does some stuff very differently. This isn’t using the real world issue of dissociative identity disorder (previously called multiple personality disorder), but invents a reasoning for things that sits squarely in the bounds of science fiction. These aren’t different personalities, but distinct people, all of whom led separate lives in their own bodies before their death. Not only does this open up the story and the investigation into the child killings, but is also avoids an exploitative depiction of a very serious mental health condition.
Tony Yang plays Case 193, the body into which the different minds are loaded. Yang does a very good job at portraying these different people, who we do occassionaly see depicted by other actors. There are scenes where he switches from one person to another, sometimes multiple times, and after a while it becomes pretty clear which person he is even before he opens his mouth. Yes, some of the mannerisms and actions are exaggerated for effect, but it does mean that with a slight tilt of the head or a shift in movement we know that Yang is suddenly a different person.
The other leads, Detective Wang (Frederick Lee) and Dr Shen (Sandrine Pinna), who play the grizzled detective and sympathetic scientist respectively, are enjoyable to watch too. Okay, both of them make some rather silly decisions at times in order to move the plot along in a certain direction, decisions that mean you wouldn’t really trust either with responsibilities like this after this movie, but they get some great scenes between the two of them that really give them a chance to show off their acting abilities.
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Some of the best moments though would have to be the ones that take place inside the shared mind of Case 193, where the rooms and hallways of the institute take on a sinister turn. The moody lighting and odd effects that get used during these moments are pretty simple, but thanks to how different they are to the rest of the film you’re never at doubt that you’re inside this strange mindscape where anything can happen. These scenes tend to be some of the creepier parts of the film, especially when the killer begins stalking the other personalities, coming out of the darkness to eliminate them.
Plurality is, on the whole, a lot of fun. It has some interesting ideas and a narrative that’s got more than a few twists and turns that’ll keep you wondering and trying to figure out answers. Add onto this a cast of really good actors and some short but intense action sequences and you’ve got a film that’s well worth a watch.
Plurality is out on Digital Platforms on 19th July from Signature Entertainment.