Note: The film hit Cable VOD on the 15th, 2016 and lands on iTunes and Digital on Nov. 22, 2016.
Directed by: Isaac Ezban
Cast: Fernando Becerril, Humberto Busto, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Pablo Guisa Koestinger
I had high hopes before entering Isaac Ezban’s world of The Similars. Trailers promised an atypical visual style, and the core concept of a number of strangers trapped in a bus station when something sinister begins to unravel sounds like the kind of insanity I could buy into. The bulk of performers have racked up impressive ledgers in Mexico. From the outside looking in, The Similars had the potential to be just the kind of treat fans want to see cap off an impressive year.
So how did it all go? Was the picture as successful as I’d hoped for?
The answer is no, it wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped – it was an infinitely more efficacious picture than I’d imagined, and it’s all anchored in daring ingenuity.
It’s impossible to delve too deep into plot specifics, as the film offers one major shock after another, all building up to a finale chills the bone and flirts with taboo territories. Prepare to see strange transformations for the eight random strangers trapped in a bus station that – mysteriously – offers no means of an exit. This group is trapped, and things get both frightening and extremely weird, in equal measure.
Ezban is a genuine threat. He wrote the script in addition to producing and directing. This is his beauty, but he gets some amazing support from cinematographer Isi Sarfati, who knows when and how to capture haunting images. And Óscar Figueroa’s editing is absolutely genius. Together, these three create an arthouse film that eliminates the endless metaphors and profoundly complex societal statements. Make no mistake, there are indeed some social statements made in the film, but Ezban knows to pull back and steer clear of preachy territory.
The acting is top notch across the board, and the growing panic that sweeps through the building feels both authentic and suffocating. There’s nothing uplifting for this group to cling to, just strange phenomena and the fact that they’re all trapped in what may actually be the safest place on earth. Given the peril they seem to face in the station, that seems preposterous, but the scope of the film is far greater than promos will lead you to believe.
Just a few years back a little Canadian flick (that will remain unnamed, as that will no doubt kill one of the major surprises of the story) surfaced out of thin air, and it utilizes a very similar story line. There are differences, but seeing as how I won’t tell you the name of that film, it’s all rather irrelevant. The point is, while this is definitely an original piece, it has drawn some influence from other sources, Rod Serling’s amazing Twilight Zone, for example, is another slice of celluloid that seems to have influenced Ezban.
Whether somewhat similar to other projects or not, this isn’t a concept we’re seeing churned out on a weekly basis, and that leaves the film feeling fresh and intriguing. The fact that the package as a whole is so refined yet unorthodox is just part of the magic that elevates Isaac Ezban’s The Similars far, far above your average genre fare. If you’re looking for a brilliant picture that invokes paranoia, claustrophobia, and xenophobia, The Similars makes for a thrilling and unadulterated trek into suffocating yet gorgeous terror.