Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Similars (Los Parecidos)

The Similars (Los Parecidos)

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 and every scene further develops the story. It was a completely mysterious and joyful experience watching this film because 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 Similars 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 has his own strong vision that makes his work seem fresh and exciting.
The Similars 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 unimaginable and terrifying scenario and 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.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


With over a thousand new types of insects being discovered every year, how are humans able to fully understand them? How could we know what they are all capable of? This is the question at the center of Bite, the new horror film from Black Fawn Films.
Bite tells the story of Casey (Elma Begovic), a bride to be who goes on a tropical bachelorette party getaway with a few of her girlfriends. While in paradise she gets bit by a bug that at first seems like just another bug bite, but upon returning home Casey starts to develop insect like traits...
Bite is one sticky, oozing, slimy mess of a film. And I mean that in the best way possible. It is old school body horror mixed with modern anxieties that features one hell of a performance from Elma Begovic. It is hard to believe that Bite is her first leading role in a film, she absolutely commands the screen, especially during and after her body begins to transform into an insect like appearance. I was thrilled watching her in full on insect mode, her head twitching with breakneck quickness, her eyes focused and sharp, and her body and movements seemingly leading her instead of the other way around. She was absolutely fantastic, and the rest of the cast all turn in solid performances.
The script does a good job fleshing out the characters and giving them more to do than just exist in a horror movie, Casey in particular. There are back stories and real life drama going on amidst the body horror transformation. Casey is unsure of her coming marriage to Jared (Jordan Gray) and kudos to the writers for making him a cool guy who has his life together and not some easy to hate villain type. This makes Casey a more complicated character because it's hard to see what she is unsure of, and Begovic works these complexities superbly in a sensitive and sympathetic performance. The same can not be said for the future mother-in-law character as she is written a bit over the top with an unexplainable disdain for Casey.
As Casey locks herself in her apartment throughout the transformation and the inevitable changing of her habitat begins, it becomes an insect haven of horrors. We get thousands upon thousands of tiny little eggs that are constantly sliding around through thick, mucus like slime that covers every square foot of the apartment. They slide off of tables, slide down the walls, collect in slippery, sticky puddles on the floor. Where do all of these slimy eggs come from? Casey begins to throw them up along with gobs and gobs of thick drippy goo. Like I said, Bite is one sticky, oozing, slimy mess of a film. Casey's apartment becomes a dark brown sinkhole of slime adorned with giant, wicked cob webs that envelope her victims when she begins to crave human flesh.
The atmosphere in Bite is masterfully created and the strong and committed performance from Elma Begovic and the rest of the cast make this a fun and effective creature feature. The music really ties the entire film together as it is reminiscent of old school horror films from the 1940's and 1950's with it's blaring horn and brass score that sounds both terrifying and magical.
Black Fawn Films really put themselves on the map for me with this one and I would recommend to everyone that you check them out and their new film Bite because it is a fun and wild ride.