Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the supernatural horror feature THE SIMILARS by writer/director Isaac Ezban. To best sum up the story (without giving anything away) I will turn to IMDB's plot description:
On the rainy night of October 2, 1968, eight characters waiting on a remote bus station for a bus heading to Mexico City start experiencing a strange phenomenon.
I am not going to lie; I was pretty well sold on this just from the title screen alone. The swelling of the score, the title appearing in quotation marks, and the black and white look to it all immediately brought to mind the paranoid science fiction films of yesteryear. Given my love for that era of bygone cinema, the bar was set pretty high leading me to hope beyond all hopes that this particular feel would extend into the movie itself.
I am happy to report that the opening shot involved a muted color scheme and a retro bus station, which quickly put to rest any concerns that the old school feel would be dropped. The look brings a lot to this piece as though everything looks commonplace, it just seems a bit off in a way that is hard to describe. The hazily familiar feel of the setting evokes a sense of mistrust that perfectly captures the paranoid leanings of this picture.
The opening voiceover makes very clear to us that all is not right at this seemingly normal bus station and leaves us very little in the way of clues as to what is about to transpire. As such, we are left to try to guess the direction of the plot based upon what little information we are given from the radio combined with the hinted at backstories of the people populating the station. The setup portion relies heavily on the dread filled atmosphere to keep us hooked before the supernatural influence begins to take hold. Much like the silver screen features of old, the paranormal events are balanced perfectly with the character focused paranoia making it hard to discern exactly who is to blame.
Throughout the proceedings, the fantastic score and classic cinematography perfectly recreate the feeling of sitting in the odeums of old for a manic matinee. As the residents of the station begin to point fingers at one another, the camera becomes more mobile framing them in close or dynamic shots that create a sense of panic without undermining its own influences. These moments are accompanied by a tense score that brings to mind the great works of Bernard Herrmann that relied upon slowly building up to a big payoff.
Speaking of payoffs, all of this hard work could have easily been undone if the conclusion of the piece cheated the audience. On that score, I am of two minds as I find the ending to be a bit open to the viewer's interpretation. To be honest, I find a bit of vagueness about the exact conclusion to be perfectly fitting for a film that relies heavily on blending the world of the familiar with that of the unknown. That being said, it seems like no matter how I read the finale, it still comes out incredibly strong with some dark implications to society as a whole.
All in all, this is a stylistically strong movie that evokes feelings of mistrust and paranoia by keeping us as in the dark as the characters. The resulting chaos plays out like the classic science fiction/horror movies of old wherein humanity proves to be just as much of a villain as the adversary. Fans of THE TWILIGHT ZONE (1959), INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956 & 1978), and the works of Alfred Hitchcock should not hesitate a bit to see this darkly wonderful picture.
The Creeping Craig
THE SIMILARS will be available on November 15 on Cable VOD and on iTunes and Digital on November 22.