Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Similars (orig. Los Parecidos) [2015]

MPAA (UR would be R)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing listing*

El Panda review*
En la Butaca review*
Proyector Fantasma (M. Santillan) review*

Moria - SF,H&F Film Review (R. Scheib) review
Scream Horror Mag (A. Hunt) review
Twitch Film (A. Mack) review

Variety (D. Harvey) review

The Similars (orig. Los Parecidos) [2015] [IMDb] [FAes]* (written and directed by Isaac Ezban [IMDb] [FAes]*) is a MEXICAN TWILIGHT ZONE-ISH SCI-FI THRILLER / PERIOD PIECE that played recently at the 32nd (2016) Chicago Latino Film FestivalEzban had scored a hit at last year's Festival with a similarly "weird" Twilight Zone-ish [1959-1964] [wikip] [IMDb] film The Incident [2014].

The story presented largely in palish green b&w is set at a remote bus station some five hours (normally) from Mexico City on the evening of October 1, 1968 during a massive (and freak) rain storm.

Readers Note that this date is significant, as early in the morning of Oct 2, 1968, Mexican security forces massacred hundreds of students who had been protesting during the summer in the lead-up to the 1968 Mexico City Summer Olympic Games.  The Tlatelolco Massacre as it came to be remembered became a universally acknowledged event in Mexico though almost never spoken of until recent years.  The film Tlatelolco, Summer of 68 (orig. Tlatelolco, Verano del 68) [2013] by another young Mexican director, Carlos Bolado, played at this Festival back in 2014.

Back to the current story ...

The rain storm had both delayed all buses and largely severed communications.  There's a single public phone booth in the station's waiting room but between the noise of the pounding rain on the station's roof and then its presumed effect on the cables / connections outside it's almost impossible for anyone using said phone (probably terrible in the best of circumstances) to understand anything said over it.  Similarly, the driving rain has caused even the radio to sound garbled.  So on this "dark and stormy night" the people in this random, smallish bus depot in provincial Mexico some five hours from the Capital find themselves quite especially isolated.

Then, ask yourselves dear Readers, who'd be out on a terrible / freak night such as this?  Clearly already those already quite marginalized or otherwise pushed by circumstances to extremes.

So while the station's night manager, 60-something Martín (played by Fernando Becerril [IMDb] [FAes]*), a few weeks from retirement, could have expected a quiet night in which he could spend most of it in the station's backroom leafing through 50s-60s era still largely b&w pornography... he finds his station filling up with increasingly disparate (and desperate) people.

The first to arrive is a 30-40 something miner named Ulises (played by Gustavo Sánchez Parra [IMDb] [FAes]*) who's wife is in Mexico City (at the in-laws...) about to give birth.  Despite the obvious storm, he can't believe that the buses are delayed.

Next appears an elderly indigenous woman (played by María Elena Olivares [IMDb] [FAes]*) who speaks no Spanish, only her native tongue, and yet clearly is convinced that something deeply wrong is afoot with this terrible storm and _immediately_ does not like Ulises.

A very pregnant woman named Irene (played by Cassandra Ciangherotti [IMDb] [FAes]*) soon arrives fleeing (again braving that terrible rain storm), fleeing her abusive husband.  Then a paranoid taxi driver :-) / "night school" student named Álvaro (played by Humberto Busto [IMDb] [FAes]*) who probably "reads too much" (or certainly the wrong stuff) comes to the station wanting to "join the students in the Capital." And he's absolutely convinced that this freak storm is some sort of "a plot" even if he's not sure it's a Gringo one, a Soviet one or EVEN an extraterrestrial one.

Finally, forty-something year old harried mother (of some means) named Gertridis (played by Carmen Beato [IMDb] [FAes]*) along with her oddly if quite seriously ill 10-12 y/o son Ignacio (played by Santiago Torres [IMDb] [FAes]*) arrive, he with an oxygen tank and a strange 50s-60s era breathing apparatus and with a shunt installed near the top of his shoulder for direct injections into his chest.  What the heck is wrong with him?  We do not know, but clearly it's very very serious.

So we have this odd collection of variously traumatized people collecting at this random provincial bus station, with a _massive storm_ (complete with thunder / lightning) POUNDING on the roof / glass front outside, with the radio -- mostly garbled of course -- occasionally coming in clear enough to warn of some massive if unclear "troubles" occurring all around the planet.  And then ...    

... the people in the station "begin to change."  How do they change?  Well, that's part of the charm of the movie ;-)  The change that occurs is both kinda amusing (to us Viewers "looking in" ;-) but to the characters involved, there in that cursed bus station at that time, it would be quite terrifying.

Now _why_ would they be "changing"?  Well, that's (of course) "open to interpretation" ;-).  Readers, remember only that the "paranoid Sci-Fi horror flicks" of the 1950s-60s to which this film clearly pays homage were set in the context of the Cold War with its Apocalyptic threat universal nuclear destruction causing, at minimum, for people almost _all people_ "to change" ;-).  

Anyway, my hat off to writer / director Isaac Ezban [IMDb] [FAes].*  You've certainly caught the attention of a fair number SciFi / Horror cinemaphiles around the world.  And I'm certainly looking forward to see what comes next ;-)

Great ... if quite paranoid ... job! ;-)

* Foreign language webpages are most easily translated using Google's Chrome Browser. 

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