Director: Isaac Ezban
Writer: Isaac Ezban
Stars: Luis Alberti, Carmen Beato, Fernando Becarril
Every so often I take a chance on some film I’ve never heard of that Netflix has recommended to me because of my previous viewing choices. Quite often I soon realise there’s a very obvious reason why I’ve never heard of it, but every once in a while I find a real gem.
The Similars was such a find. I went into it knowing nothing; not even that it was a Mexican production and therefore the whole film was in Spanish, so I would have to read subtitles. I don’t have a problem with foreign-language films, but I do feel like sometimes I’m missing things when my attention has to be so closely centred on the bottom of the screen, but it’s a small price to pay for a great film.
It’s 1968 and a group of eight strangers are trapped in a Mexican bus station during a rain storm. But this is no normal rain. The fragments of news reports we hear throughout the movie on the radio tell us that what is falling from the sky isn’t H2O… it’s something else, and it’s causing people to change in a very specific way.
Director Isaac Ezban introduces us to the disparate band of travellers one at a time, and expertly weaves their personal narrative into the increasing air of tension and paranoia. The events that follow could easy cause laughter in the hands of a lesser writer and director, but I was totally suckered into this world and fascinated by the seemingly unexplainable nature of what is happening.
This film owes a large debt to The Twilight Zone. From the voice-over that opens and closes the film, to the Bernard Herrmann-esque score, to the eventual reveal that you’re watching a reworking of one of the Zone’s more famous stories; it shows its love for the seminal series at every turn.
Possibly another nod to the classic series is that the colour is almost bleached out to black and white by the end of the film – I felt this was a gradual change throughout the film, but I may be wrong – with only key colours popping out for emphasis. The movie discards the well-defined sharp edges of digital HD and swaps them for the more nostalgic feel of TV of yesteryear, with the focus softened to an almost blurry degree. The director has even added digital scratches and light flares to give that feeling of old film stock, and though I did think those came up with too much regularity to be believable, they do add to the overall feel of the film.
It’s hard to say much more about the story without giving away spoilers, so I will just recommend that you go into this film with as little knowledge as I had. It’ll make the experience all the more worthwhile. If you’re a fan of the bizarre and fantastical, or were a fan of The Twilight Zone, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll have a great time.