I was completely blown away by Isaac Ezban‘s 2015 supernatural thriller Los Parecidos (The Similars), so I was ecstatic to dive into his most recent film, PARALLEL, which will be released in theaters and on-demand in the US on December 11th.
While PARALLEL departs from his native Mexico and is written by Scott Blaszak, the style choices are definitely Ezban’s touch. But how does it compare to his previous work and how does it stand as its own? Well, let’s take a closer look.
The plot revolves around four friends with a dream – a dream to develop a successful app. Yep, I have a feeling that “app developer” will be to this era as “ad executive” was to the ’90s and “generic business-person” was to the ’80s.
Regardless, these plucky twenty-somethings are up against an impossible deadline for their app. If they can’t deliver, there’s no deal and the company will go with another development team. Frustrated, angry, and a little drunk, they vent their disappointment back at home, resulting in the discovery of a secret room with a strange mirror. The enigma deepens as they find the old diary of the previous owner who mysteriously disappeared years prior. During their investigation, they unravel the secret – a portal to other alternate realities.
With their newfound portal, they make no qualms with using it to their advantage, making all of their desires and dreams come true…
But when these desires come at a cost, will it be worth it?
PARALLEL is very different from Los Parecidos. PARALLEL is a sharp, higher-budgeted, studio-clean film. However, because of this, it can be formulaic and obviously ready for mass appeal and consumption, whereas Los Parecidos was anything but typical and much eerier. This film actually pulls out the classic lines of, “I shit you not” and, “Guys, check this out!”
However, thankfully some of the superficiality and formula fades in the second act as we begin to understand our characters, in particular Leena (Georgia King) and Devin (Aml Ameen). And I have to say as much as I adore Martin Wallström’s acting (like a smoother and more adjusted version of his “Mr. Robot” character, Tyrell Wellick), I have to admit that Aml Ameen stole the show, bringing all the gravity and conflict of being the voice of reason in his performance.
As much as I enjoyed the “science” of trying to explain the “how” of the mirror, I was disappointed to not learn more about the “why”. That being said, PARALLEL is, at heart, a mad scientist story tucked into a time travel narrative, which was delightful. The only thing I would not advise is actually watching the trailer because it not only shows important plot points but ruins the atmosphere before watching. Just dive right into this film and don’t look back.
The bottom line is, while PARALLEL lacks the heart and strangeness of Los Parecidos, the style and direction of Ezban still shine through. If you like time travel plots or want a slow-burn thriller disguised as a popcorn flick, PARALLEL is for you. So, “guys, check this out!”; it’s a fun watch, “I shit you not.”
PARALLEL will be released in theaters and on-demand on December 11, 2020, through Vertical Entertainment.