Review by Sean Boelman
Taking a classic movie and modernizing it as a series is a challenge because of the substantially longer format. The new Prime Video series Dead Ringers overcomes that obstacle, not just because it is a career-best outing for the phenomenal Rachel Weisz, but also because it is a tense, sensual, and fun thriller the likes of which we have not seen in a while.
The show is a gender-swapped remake of the 1988 David Cronenberg film of the same name, itself based on the novel Twins by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland. It follows two identical twin gynecologists whose unorthodox and precisely-orchestrated life is threatened when one of them falls in love with an actress to the chagrin of the other.
Of course, the highlight of this show — and the main reason for it to exist — is the extraordinary dual performance by Weisz. Jeremy Irons’s take on the roles in Cronenberg’s film is pretty iconic, so Weisz had quite the challenge on her plate. She more than delivers, giving two performances that are each extraordinary: one big and sinister, and the other quiet and sly. It’s clear that Weisz is having a blast on this project, and that feeling is absolutely infectious.
The show offers some themes, both expected and unexpected. It’s no surprise that the central dilemma in the show revolves around the idea of playing god, a concept which has seemingly been omnipresent in medical horror since the genre’s inception. However, the gender-swapping of the roles allows the show to offer a much more intriguing exploration of femininity and womanhood than its counterpart.
Dead Ringers manages to be one of the sexiest shows on streaming right now. Not only does the series contain an unexpectedly large amount of sex scenes, but it also just radiates confidence in its sexuality. And yet, it also feels like there is a much greater purpose to the show’s sexuality than titillation. Especially in the back half of the series, the characters and show use the idea of sexuality to provoke thought in fascinating ways.
The show is also extremely suspenseful, with the last two episodes in particular being especially unsettling. Although the show isn’t exactly body horror, there are some portions that are likely to be too much for those who are squeamish, including some graphic and bloody scenes of surgical procedures.
Still, the effects for these more violent/gory moments are undeniably impressive in a way that is sure to be unsettling even for those with a tougher stomach. As a whole, the series is quite strong on a visual level, with a sleek style and poppy soundtrack that give the whole affair a feeling of energy and fun that is quite effective.
Dead Ringers is one of the few remakes that manages to actually work because it takes the concept and does something fresh and original with it. Throw in a performance by Rachel Weisz that is truly an all-timer, and you have another win for streaming in the first months of 2023.
Dead Ringers streams on Prime Video beginning April 21. All six episodes reviewed.