Whether or not writer/director Isaac Ezban meant to pay tribute to at least one classic episode of The Twilight Zone in this earnest indie horror movie, it’s hard to say, but comparisons abound. From the washed-out, nearly black-and-white palette to the opening and closing voice-over monologue, The Similars (Los Parecidos) frequently feels like a respectful hat tip to Rod Serling and other like him who made such wonderful television when the medium was still in its relative infancy. Whether it succeeds on the same level as, say, The Invaders or The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street is another matter.
Set on a dark and stormy night (!) in a Mexico bus station during the fall of 1962, eight seemingly unrelated characters become trapped by pouring rain, a rain that appears to be “wrong,” somehow. Radio reports make it clear that something awful is happening not just in Mexico, but all across the world, and people are advised to stay indoors. Things go from odd to creepy when one of the folks begin to turn into another of the trapped characters. Eventually, this strange turn of plot slips perilously close to becoming silly, but then manages to pull up the nose of the story and succeed in delivering a truly Zone-ian twist.
The plot and twist make it difficult to pen a thorough review, so here are a few factoids for horror fans to take into account before viewing:
1. Ezban utilizes very little gore; a decent splash of blood or so is about it. This is to his credit, because any more reliance on blood would have reduced the tension and suspense of the film. Short parts of the movie hearken a bit to John Carpenter’s The Thing, in fact (including a brief shot of a pretty disturbing-looking dog), with a premium on a “WTF???” style storyline.
2. The performances of the entire cast are crackerjack. Frankly, there are moments in the script that must have been challenging due to their potential campiness factor, but the actors each give earnest performances that support the entire premise very well.
3. Fans of the single set should enjoy The Similars; all of the action, save for a bit at the end, takes place in this ‘60s era Mexican bus station, and that’s it. It’s not quite the claustrophobic tension of The Descent, but the walls definitely start to feel like they’re closing in.
4. Full disclosure: the film is in Spanish and includes English subtitles. This won’t be a problem for viewers used to reading-watching a movie, but might get in the way for those who don’t want their horror to be thoughtful.
On that note, make no mistake, The Similars isn’t the kind of creeper flick you toss in at random while doing some other take-home busywork. This movie needs to be watched to be enjoyed. In the end, such a watching is recommended, with the caveat that it simply might cross into confused laughter for anyone not willing to let the story play out to its full conclusion.
A well-made film overall, but one that just might not hit all the right notes for traditional horror lovers.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Listen to the full discussion about The Similars on Slice of SciFi 785