An homage to The Twilight Zone
The Similars is a bit of a critical darling, and the film drips with old science fiction/horror nostalgia. We are introduced to a bus stop full of interesting characters who are marooned due to a massive, seemingly world-wide, rain storm. The bus stop is plain, and filmed through a dreary lens filter that makes everything seem almost black and white. Something is happening, as people mysteriously fall ill, they reawaken to discover they look exactly like one of the strangers in the station. Paranoia sets in as it seems this bizarre infection will stop at nothing.
Sounds cool, right? Mexican horror is usually quite adept at taking horror to a new or advanced level. This one did not work for me, personally. You might notice this film sports an impressive 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, so perhaps I am just the sole stick in the mud.
The film can’t decide whether it is an ode to old horror and science fiction or a parody of those genres. We have odd imbalances in the narrative that constantly rub against what the overarching plot is. The film begins with a heavy handed narration, which is akin to Twilight Zone introductions, but it doesn’t work as well, and goes for far too long. There is an inherent silliness in this sort of storytelling, but once the film begins we are left with a more straight-up horror set-up that reminded me of more serious films. However, we also have cheesier moments later, and the seizures themselves are designed to be gross on an Evil Dead level. The tonal imbalances kept me from ever fully engaging with the film. (First watch check was only 12 minutes in).
The movie is also quite yelly. Once it is discovered that everyone is transforming into the same person, no one stops shouting—pretty much for the rest of the film. Poor sound mixing makes the shouting obnoxious. I get that they were going for a rise in anxiety and to add tension, but it reminded me of cable news when everyone is shouting and not a horror film. I grew to hate almost all of the characters immediately. None of them think about anything—and I get that this might be realistic, but it certainly isn’t entertaining. Instead, we end up with a slow-motion train wreck.
I did appreciate watching the world’s dumbest game of the conch shell from Lord of the Flies. The station manager has a shotgun, but it is constantly taken from him and others, and whoever holds the gun gets to control the situation (control might be a little strong of a term). After the fourth time of the weapon changing hands, I wasn’t really sure what I was watching anymore. It seemed like they were unwilling to commit to a follow through from any of the characters in the vast majority of the characters until the final act.
The mystery is interesting, but they never explore it in a way that makes the film engaging. Even at only 90 minutes, the film seems to go on for an eternity. Further, the ending is astonishingly unsatisfying. The entire film could be summarized in a sentence, and this includes a narrative twist. I won’t spoil it here, but I’m not sure I even raised my eyebrows at it. Even diehard fans of Rod Serling’s classic series will find this one doesn’t have enough gas to get through. I say skip this one. 3/10.