Worth a watch, especially for sci-fi fans, but not an instant classic
Having previously opened at various film festivals, Parallel is getting its mainstream release. After discovering a portal to parallel universes, a group of friends' trust and loyalty is pushed to the limit in this interesting sci-fi indie flick.
Tense when it needs to be, director Isaac Ezban explores the moral grey areas of a victimless advantage. Though low budget, this is hidden by creative camera work and quick pacing, though more time getting to know our characters could allow for a deeper understanding into their decision making. Where the film falls down on its character development, Ezban is able to keep it afloat with steady handling of the high concept.
A group of app designers discover a mirror hidden within their home that allows them to travel to parallel universes. The group almost instantly decides to use this advantage for their own gain, immediately succumbing to greed and power. It takes too long for the voice of reason and moral questioning to kick in, and whilst the inciting incident at the midway point is interesting, the choices made by our core group make little sense. Their questionable choices open up new and interesting avenues to explore, it just feels like a huge jump to have gotten to the conclusion the group reaches. Rather than dealing with some intense ethical dilemmas following their decisions, the characters continue on their empty pursuit of money and notoriety, making it hard to stay invested.
The final act is mostly satisfying, but throwing in a love triangle between two of the guys and the only female lead when neither had chemistry with her during the film feels out of the blue and somewhat lazy writing.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Whilst well acted, our core characters are almost instantly dislikeable. One of their first instincts when finding the portal is to take advantage of their ‘alts’ and steal money before they eventually move on to stealing works of art and scientific merit. With dubious decision making and greedy motivations, their lack of compassion for alts makes it difficult to feel any empathy for them, so when things start to go wrong, it’s hard to root for them in any way.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
When in the alternative universes there’s a clear change in colour tones and focus; this works to begin with, but as the lines between the universes start to blend and we flit between both camera styles within scenes, the difference detracts from the emotion and story, instead looking messy and off-putting. The film does however shine with its props – the new age tech and modern art stolen from the alternative universes looks great. There is also a scene at the end where the design team have outdone themselves as it is just grim.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The score is well utilised and adds to the slick sci-fi feel of the film.
Parallel is an interesting film and a great concept that just misses the mark because of an unlikable cast of characters who don’t feel like identifiable people. Worth a watch, especially for sci-fi fans, but not an instant classic.
PARALLEL is In Select Theaters & VOD - December 11, 2020