Written by: Adam Vaughn | December 10th, 2020
Parallel (Isaac Ezban, 2018) 3 out of 4 stars.
The theory of a “multiverse” currently permeates the modern science-fiction film genre, with many of the superhero franchises and related films portraying numerous versions of traveling through time and physical space. Isaac Ezban’s Parallel furthers the explorations of multiple dimensions via the use of an average, unexplainable mirror that shifts between two universes. When a group of friends discovers the dimension-shifting mirror, what starts as a sneaky amount of personal business quickly spirals into a murderous, high-stakes drama.
The film’s main premise and attendant tension certainly captured my attention right from the opening scene. Underneath the scientific elements of Parallel is an adequately woven drama of murder, deception and the poison of greed. Yet when director Ezban (The Similars) attempts to balance the crumbling relationships between the main characters, the film becomes distracting, confusing, and at times borderline ridiculous. Many subtle uses of advanced technology seem to come out of nowhere, with little explanation as to their creation or discovery, and are only seen for a single moment before they are never shown again. Similarly, the scientific rules of dimension travel only ever pertain to the main characters’ initial dimension, and we never quite get to witness if (or how) the characters’ travels through the mirror affect the other side.
Still, Parallel certainly comes with a considerable amount of surprise moments, and some thought-provoking (and thrilling) uses of time and technology. Certain scientific inventions almost have a Star Wars level of suspending disbelief that keeps the film visually compelling, and the fate of some of the characters in the story reveal chilling outcomes of crossing into a parallel universe. What mostly holds back this film is its inability to fully embrace either its sci-fi roots or the drama/suspense plot it follows. Parallel’s sporadic introduction of new concepts makes it hard to follow at times, and towards the end, some dramatic scenes weigh the film down to the point of boredom.
As an addition to the science-fiction genre, Parallel certainly utilizes a small budget and skillful basic visual effects to tell the story. The characters’ developments throughout leave enough emotional impact to carry the film to its more-than predictable ending. Ideally, the concept could be taken to a much grander scheme, and to a much more visually compelling level. Nevertheless, Parallel stands as a decent independent filmmaking exercise in dealing with a premise as complex as parallel dimensions and the repercussions of crossing into other universes.