Dual Mania (2021): Film Review

Jan 26, 2020

dual mania film review joseph strickland

Joseph Strickland’s Dual Mania follows Dr. Steve Livingston (Joseph Plummer), a fresh graduate taking on his first patient as a psychotherapist.

For his first case, he meets Tommy (Michael Spitz), a patient who is always hesitant about trying to uncover his troubled past. A series of uncomfortable events reveal the truth about Tommy, including the root of his uncontrollable and dangerous urge towards other people.

By committing to investigate Tommy’s dark history, Steve will find himself in an unlikely position that could put his personal life in peril.

Like many other films that operate under a limited budget, Dual Mania could have benefited with more hands at play. The film approaches a noir-like take on a silent-criminal-on-the-loose narrative with clear hesitance to show more. It aims for concealment for its more crucial moments, which in one scene utilizes shadow, to heighten the mood.

The plot of Dual Mania is heavily reminiscent of sexual thrillers from the ‘80s and ‘90s, in which intimacy was used as a weapon that traverses the story to much deeper perspectives. Sequences of sex were played to frighten, to put viewers in an uneasy position, and in one point, to demoralize the purity of a man.

Perhaps, the “dual” in Dual Mania serves to represent the literal and figurative duality of its characters. Tommy is a regular man that tries to hide his shadow, while Steve, in the latter half of the film, is forced to become the man he never expected to be. The film has an interesting perspective in confronting its lead male characters, to the point that it surprisingly opts for a bittersweet ending than a full-on “hero saves the day” type of conclusion.

dual mania film review joseph strickland

Dual Mania has a bite-sized running time (77 minutes) but it’s easy to see this as a two-hour feature or six-hour miniseries that pins its key characters in even crazier positions. Despite its production’s limitations, the film has confidently managed to pull multiple strings at once, most of which had to do with the dynamics of its two leading characters.

The film is currently making rounds in various film premieres in the US, most recently in Minneapolis, Minnesota. See it when you have the chance.


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