The Similars is the second feature length film from Mexican writer/director Isaac Ezban. The movie takes place on October 2, 1968, and it is a dark and very stormy night. It’s a torrential downpour, and eight strangers find themselves waiting in a remote bus station trying to get to to Mexico City. With the buses delayed due to the weather and no taxis willing to make the long drive to the station, the group struggles to find a way out of the bus station. Amidst their struggle and frustration being stranded at the station, they all start experiencing a strange phenomenon.
To say more of the plot would be entering spoiler territory and, as with Ezban’s 2014 feature The Incident, the less you know going in the better.
The Similars is high-concept storytelling at it’s best; it takes a simple plot and runs with it while never losing sight of what it is trying to accomplish. Ezban makes The Similars work so well because, after the initial set up, the plot is driven forward by the characters. Every scene further develops the story. It was a completely mysterious and joyful experience watching this film. Once the “strange phenomenon” starts to take place, I had no idea where it would end up…and I was mesmerized right through the end credits!
The film is a throwback homage to old “Twilight Zone” episodes, and Ezban pays those classic stories the best kind of compliment by bluntly allowing their influence on him to shine through without making it seem like he was ripping them off or simply mimicking them. He is the kind of filmmaker who knows his influences well and wants to celebrate them, but he has his own strong vision that makes his work seem fresh and exciting.
This is a special film that had me feeling like a kid at a Saturday matinee.
With the very faded color scheme that gave the film an aged, black and white look mixing with the crispness of the picture, The Similars felt like a strange yet familiar dream world. The excellent cast of actors elevate the dream world aesthetic of the film by portraying real people experiencing a hellish nightmare, even as the direction hits upon tones of humor and outrageousness.
The audience I saw this with laughed several times at genuinely funny (if not a bit disturbing) scenes. The tone of the film is superbly blended, as The Similars pushes itself further into “Twilight Zone” territory by putting the audience in an uncomfortable and unimaginably terrifying scenario — allowing their only means of release be either a gasp or a laugh. It’s brilliant storytelling, and I can’t wait to watch it again!
The Similars is a film that almost requires you to know as little as possible before you see it. Part of the pure enjoyment is watching the characters deal with this nightmare scenario and watching the events unfold right up to its smart and expertly tied together climax. Isaac Ezban has set the bar very high for himself, and I am very excited to see what he does next.