El incidente [The Incident] (2014)

(Honorable Mention.  Probably)

Isaac Ezban has, in the course of his very short career to date, shown himself to be one of the stranger new directors out there.  This was his first film.

I’ve reviewed the other two he made, the strange and Twilight Zone-ish Los Parecidos, with its strange goings on in a tiny bus station, and the conceptually weird alternate reality film Parallel, both of which I highly recommend.

They impressed me so much I had to go find his first film, El Incidente.

It follows two parallel incidents: a criminal and his brother, who have been arrested by an undercover cop, end up trapped in a seemingly endless stairwell where the bottom floor leads directly to the Ninth floor.  Meanwhile, a family on its way to a vacation resort gets trapped on a stretch of highway which similarly loops back on itself.  Somehow, the food in the stairwell’s vending machine, and on the shelves of the gas station keep replenishing themselves, as do some of the other items in their little worlds.

Then the film suddenly leaps forward Thirty-Five years.

Ezban is a big fan of the TV show Lost: it is one of the major influences on all three of his films, although it may be strongest here.  While he had a fairly small budget for this film, his endless loop worlds feel very real, thanks largely to the fact that he shot them on location.  There’s a lot of attention to detail here, as the mundane replicating items get used in countless strange ways — like a shanty built from mechanic’s overalls.

Perhaps the best moment here comes when one character leaves the road and tries to walk for help across the barren desert landscape — only to return hours later on the other side of the road.

It’s only at the end that we are finally given some sort of explanation, but it is one which really isn’t that much of an explanation, one involving parallel realities, but not in any familiar sort of way.

But then, that is more or less what one might expect from Ezban.

Ironically, Los Parecidos suggests another, more clearly science fictional explanation for the events here.  Not that it’s clear that Ezban intends it as an explanation.

That would be too easy.

One does have to wonder whether there is any real answer here, or whether he’s just being weird for the sake of being weird and giving us a strange, metaphysical explanation.  Ironically, Los Parecidos has a very clear solution, and Parallel is entirely logical, once you accept the reality of the mirror.

So I suspect he does mean it.  Although, as his second film hints, there may be more to it than we know.

The film itself is masterful, beautifully assembled and with a lot of impressive camera work. He plays a lot of games establishing his alternate worlds, which follow very clear rules.

That’s one of the most important things any fantasy world should to do.

I have to admit I don’t agree with most critics on this one, though:  I think the later two films are better, and have a high regard for Parallel, despite its generally lukewarm critical reception.  Both of these films do a better job of tying Ezban’s wild flights of imagination down to a rational framework than El Incidente.

Which is something I think his work really needs.

However, it is a very strong first film, and I have a lot of respect for it.

But it still isn’t as good as the films that followed.

That still makes it worth seeing, and it is still a brilliant and unforgettable film.  It is definitely worth a look for anyone who loves Science Fiction and Fantasy.

If you can find it…

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Which this time focuses on…Mike Nesmith???

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