The Incident director Isaac Ezban pulls real substance from an apparently slight premise in The Similars, an affectionate homage to 60s sci-fi that ingeniously balances moments of genuine hilarity with tight storytelling, and gives way to an impressively high concept at precisely the right moment.
You’ll know pretty quickly where you stand with The Similars. As the scene opens on a rain-battered bus station outside Mexico City on a dark night in 1968, we’re introduced to mild-mannered ticket clerk Martin (Fernando Beccerril) through the medium of a fantastically Twilight Zone-esque narrator. With all transport to the city rained out, you’d bet on a slow night at the office, but no sooner does the narrator assure us that Martin’s story isn’t the one he’s here to tell is his peace shattered by the arrival, in quick succession, of a number of strangers, all desperate to get their destinations.
What begins as a simple clash of personalities soon escalates, and as it becomes apparent that the assembled mass are more connected than they first appear, The Similars becomes increasingly eccentric, and balances its lighter moments with an authentically sinister sensibility. The two can only coexist in the same film via an expert command of tone, and Ezban brings that to the table with ease. As it resolves itself in dark, intelligent fashion, it becomes apparent that this is the work of a writer/director with the invaluable skill of packing big ideas into small spaces, and making them look spectacular in the process. It’s tendency towards retro-sci-fi absurdity may alienate some, but if you commit to The Similars, it’s a mightily rewarding ride.