A voiceover begins The Similars telling us this is no
normal night no matter what the characters might hope, and so it turns out to
be in this wild and inventive homage to television and movies past.
The setting is one evening in turbulent 1968, in a
Mexico driven by social inequality, student protests and political suppression.
At a small town’s bus station a few hours away from the capital city, we find
ourselves with 8 strangers stranded in an unnaturally heavy rainstorm, all
waiting for their way out. As they hope against hope for the bus to arrive,
strange events start to unfurl, with mine worker and expectant father Ulises
possibly the cause of it all. With the weirdness building they turn against
each other as paranoia takes a tight grip. To say much else would spoil the
It’s a simple set up, and if you’re thinking one that
could have been a lost episode of The Twilight Zone then that’s wholly
intentional on the part of writer and director Isaac Ezban. Taking his cue from
classic episodes like The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, as well as Alfred
Hitchcock Presents and any number of paranoid ‘60s sci-fi thrillers it
stays focussed on the bus station and the small cast, the outside world only
filtering in through static-heavy radio broadcasts.
Ezban knows his milieu well, both the cultural
influences and the socio-political background his story is set against. Working
with a drained palette that’s mostly black and white, flourishes of colour make
their way in to highlight events as well reinforcing the otherworldliness of
what’s taking place.
A note of near-hysteria is struck early on and
sustained for much of the running time. The Similars walks a fine line
between nervy science-fiction and tipping into horror, with one or two moments
being effectively grisly stuff. It’s a confident film, with tight pacing and a
strong control of the material and mood.
As with the finest Twilight Zone episodes Ezban
also strongly works in but doesn’t labour the film’s underlying messages, here
about conformity and acting before we know all the information. There’s a
constant tone of playfulness and dark humour throughout that shows he’s having
a lot of fun with the frequent tips of the hat to his inspirations whilst never
losing the points being made.
It's highly recommended and is well worth catching,
whether you're familiar with the references or not. A fun, witty, and
intelligent genre movie, it stands tall against its influences and is deserving
of your time.
THE SIMILARS / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY:
ISAAC EZBAN / STARRING: LUIS ALBERTI, CARMEN BEATO, FERNANDO BECERRIL, HUMBERTO
BUSTO, CASSANDRA CIANGHEROTTI / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 15TH (VOD), NOVEMBER 22ND (iTUNES/DIGITAL)