Doppelganger stories (cf: Coherence, Us, The Brøken) tend to get complicated fast, so director Karoline Lyngbye (who co-scripted with Mikkel Boe Sorenson) pares things down to chamber drama basics before breaking the laws of the universe. Stine (Marie Bach Hansen) and Teit (Mikkel Boe Folsgaard) and their young son Nemo (Mihlo Olsen) – plus their dog Tarzan – drive away from Copenhagen to an isolated, swish cabin in the woods near a lake – which they have rented for a year on the promise that they will have literally no interaction with other people. Stine is a writer working on a book and Teit wants to chronicle their time away in a serial podcast which will also serve to explore their (slightly shaky) marriage – that both parents think they’ll be able to live off-grid and beyond the reach of modern media and other people and take their kid along suggests they’ve not quite thought this through … and Nemo does indeed demand so much attention Stine can’t make progress, while Teit finds that the podcast interviews exacerbate rather than heal their marital problems.
Lyngbye puts in some images of reflections – the whole family seen again in the invisible glass of the cabin windows, then apparently disappearing – to foreshadow Twilight Zone weirdness … and there are ominous moments as the isolatees glimpse other people on the far side of the lake or too many uncollected jiffy bags are found in the mailbox (Teit never mentions that no one is actually picking up his podcast for broadcast). Thinking she glimpses a woman in the woods, Stine investigates – leaving Nemo to wander off, prompting a panic which is only briefly relieved when the kid is found again, since now he claims Stine isn’t his mother and gets increasingly hysterical.
Attempts to leave the area trigger that familiar driving-past-the-same-landmark inesacapable loop, and boating across the lake to the strangers’ place leads to an identical cabin and a near-identical couple, whose marriage is an even worse state and who act with paranoid hostility when the doppelgangers show up … only for the twosome quartet to get mixed and matched as predictable quarrels and unlikely bonds develop between four characters who can’t decide whether to kill or fuck each other or just offload their woes on people uniquely suited to understanding.
There’s a not-really-an-explanation sop to quantum physics to justify the overlapping of parallel universes, but Lyngbye wants us to pay more attention to the minutiae of this particular situation – with an assumption (that there’s only one Nemo – or maybe even not that many, considering the name) the self-absorbed parents make early on sliding by as a sinister set-up. It’s played as a serious character drama, but can’t help verging on farcical comedy and cosmic horror. It has a lovely, calm, subliminally unnerving woodland look too.