Reviewed by: Jane Fae

"I found myself quickly gripped by Parallel."

Some things you should never do. Go back in the water when the local mayor declares the shark nothing to worry about. Stay in the kitchen while your best friends head off to track down the knife-wielding maniac. Or, in my own case, agree to watch (and review) any film with horror in the write-up. Because horror and I are not good bedfellows.

Occasionally, though, I allow my optimism to get the better of me and…I dare! Which is why I ended up watching Parallel. This tells the story of four millennials, Noel (Martin Wallström from Mr. Robot), Devin (Aml Ameen from I May Destroy You), Leena (Georgia King from Devs) and Josh (Mark O’Brien from Ready Or Not). Under intense time pressure to deliver on an IT project, they find a strange mirror in a hidden attic. How strange? Well, the mirror is a doorway: a portal to another parallel version of this world. Or versions. If you are not keen on a load of pseudo-scientific jargon about the 'multiverse', cover your ears.

Copy picture

In every other version, time moves more slowly. So, to kick off, they take advantage of this difference for benign purposes. Impossible deadline to meet? Why not just hang out in a parallel universe – an “alt” - where you get hours of time to the second in this one, and catch up on the competition?

Inevitably, though, temptation sets in. You can’t win the lottery in this alt by grabbing the numbers from another. But you can build the most incredible career in art or science by grabbing ideas from the other side, where things are ever so slightly, subtly different. Think a world in which Ryan Gosling made a version of Frankenstein.

Each individual, though, has their own personal demons and, granted impossible powers, each member of our intrepid band starts to abuse the power this mcguffin has gifted them. In small ways at first: ways that grant them wealth or fame or pretty much whatever their heart desires. But there is a price to pay.

Consequence sets in, and Nemesis rears her pretty head. Because in the end this is an old story with its roots in an older, much darker tradition. Twilight Zone crossed with every story ever about “Be careful what you wish for”. Add in a dash of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, as alt people from one universe get mixed up with alts from another and you have the picture. Mostly.

Despite initial misgivings (over the genre), I found myself quickly gripped by Parallel. We begin with four credible characters, an 'impossible' plot that suspends disbelief effectively and efficiently. And a gradually mounting tension that builds to a final twisty denouement that showcases why the mirror was hidden in the first place: why some things are better left alone.

And I got there without the need to cover my eyes or look away. Because this is horror without creatures hiding in the shadows, without monsters skulking in the background waiting to grab the protagonists when least they expect. For as in all the best films in this genre, the monsters are on the inside, within us, not without.

One member of our fabulous foursome has a far darker soul than any realised. They will do anything to hang on to their newfound wealth and power. Not to mention a serious toxic personal obsession and a tendency to violence. TW’s for violence, abuse and general nastiness. This cannot but end badly. And OMG, the end is truly disgusting. Not for the squeamish of heart.

The end? Ah yes: at least all’s well that ends well. Or is it? In the tradition of the best of Twilight Zone, Parallel finishes with a question mark and not a full stop. And that is as it should be.

You know, if all horror was like this, I could watch more.

Reviewed on: 09 Dec 2020
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A group of young tech developers discover a portal to a multiverse and use it for work, but they're meddling with powers they don't understand.
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Director: Isaac Ezban

Writer: Scott Blaszak

Starring: Aml Ameen, Alyssa Diaz, David Harewood, Georgia King, Mark O'Brien, Kathleen Quinlan, Martin Wallström

Year: 2018

Runtime: 104 minutes

Country: Canada


Fantasia 2018

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