The Similars (Los Parecidos)

Terrifying, brainy sci-fi set in a Mexico City bus station in 1968.

Between The Incident and now The Similars (Los Parecidos), Isaac Ezban is proving himself to be one of the best directors of brainy sci-fi. But the tightly wound Incident didn’t reveal itself to be a genre picture until well into its first act, whereas the gloriously pulpy The Similars announces its intention from the start. Its opening (and eventual closing) voiceovers are by an omniscient narrator whose similarity to The Twilight Zone‘s Rod Serling is surely intentional. On a dark night in 1968, during what a crackly radio broadcast —always and forever the spookiest way of delivering exposition — describes as a global hurricane, a group of travelers that includes bearded miner Ulises (Gustavo Sánchez Parra), radicalized college student Alvaro (Humberto Busto), frail moppet Ignacio (Santiago Torres), and his mother Gertrudis (Carmen Beato) find themselves in a bus station five hours outside Mexico City run by the elderly Martín (Fernando Becerril). They can’t leave the building, and then truly strange things start happening. The Similars is very much a genre homage, with a color palette toned down to near-black-and-white levels and a score openly evoking Bernard Hermann. That the events take place on the evening of the Tlatelolco Massacre adds a level of resonance for those familiar with that aspect of Mexican political history, but it’s a fun ride either way.

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