Stars: Aml Ameen, Martin Wallström, Georgia King Director: Isaac Ezban Distributor: 101 Films
“I think it’s parallel universes.”
A Canadian-produced film from 2018 that finally finds its way onto DVD thanks to the forever-amazing 101 Films, Parallel is a highly original and intriguing film that transcends from an adventurous sci-fi into a dystopian one – remarkably well too. Its thought-provoking and gradually frightful nature collectively supports the film’s pursuit of sci-fi relevance and attention with its “multiverse” depiction – something which will be on the tip of every tongue after a handful of DC and Marvel films within the next year.
Parallel presents four friends – Noel (Martin Wallström), Josh (Mark O’Brien), Devin (Aml Ameen) and Leena (Georgia King) – all of whom are roughly down on their luck as they chase their technological dreams. For example, Noel and Josh devise a parking app, yet they ultimately face rejection because of ridiculous production demands. As a group, they just get drunk. Alcohol solves all problems! During a tantrum or two within their shoddy excuse of a house, however, Leena finds that one of the walls is fake… Behind it, a staircase that leads to a creepy attic. How did they not know they had an attic?! The equipment and furniture found may not resemble that of the model town in Beetlejuice, but instead, there lies an antique mirror that when tilted the right way offers more than a dusty reflection.
The mirror offers itself as a portal to an infinite array of parallel universes where only mere details are different. The ventures into the unknown offer a discovery of unbelievable advantages, but with no recognition or consideration of danger. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. With time dilation aiding their quest for success, Noel and friends are blessed with “borrowing” from infinite realities, resulting in uncapped riches in their own reality. Little do they know the effect of their selfish causes…
Parallel views in the vein of a sci-fi film that isn’t self-aware, but one that is made with full awareness of great sci-fi classics centering on time-travel and alternate realities etc. At first, the progression towards the mystery room and spooky attic established a mature Goosebumps vibe which is to be welcomed. The notions of using out-of-this-world and unbelievable elements and technological advances – such as using a time dilated parallel universe to build an app in a day – projects great reminiscents of dangerous advantages being used for selfish gain, only to lead to greater dangers. The Sports Almanac in Back to the Future Part II… Bradley Cooper popping too many pills in Limitless… Jeff Fahey frequenting way too often with Pierce Brosnan’s virtual reality device in The Lawnmower Man… We’ve seen this concept for decades on end, yet it never remains tiresome because there’s always an interest in how everything will go wrong.
The concept of everything going wrong feels inevitable in this type of sci-fi. There is a growing inevitability throughout that fortunes will soon turn to fear for both the characters and the viewers. The anticipation of demise for the characters, however, comes in inconsistent waves with Parallel because, unfortunately, the majority of the characters – for the most part – are extraordinarily dislikeable. The acting brought forward by each of the four main characters is always of a good standard, but it is only Aml Ameen’s Devin who – isn’t as much of a d*ck as the rest – and manages to successfully humanise the concept of the magic portal and its possibilities when touching upon deep and difficult subjects and discussions. Real human issues and not just transferring money one didn’t earn from one universe to another.
Under the admirable direction of Isaac Ezban, Parallel manages to present a WILD concept in a very easy to view way. Under the scenario of multiverses, time dilation etc. this could have been a film that becomes so astonishingly confusing, it becomes an endurance test to understand the actions. However, Ezban has successfully made science-fiction accessible for all with Parallel. The outstanding adjustment of cinematography in the presentation of parallel universes, whilst quite disorientating, is a compelling spectacle. Sadly, the third act of the film does manage to get tangled within its own context, but far from an extent that would establish Parallel as a difficult viewing. Perhaps one of its few difficulties is its comprehension for the conclusions of its quartet of characters. A film that gradually gets much darker, there is a point of no return on a tonal basis that rids much of the film’s excitement in exchange for the expectancy of unbeknown dangers.
Parallel is available now on DVD and Digital. Many thanks to Aim Publicity and 101 Films for the pleasure of this film.
This article’s featured image: By Source, 101 Films Fair Use