Despite the fact that Parallels is a failed Fox pilot with Stephen King overtones, the film released by Fox Digital Studio, is entertaining. It is an interesting look at the question of parallel worlds and the people who inhabit them. With such an open end plot device, it should have been a sure thing but apparently Fox, after their initial enthusiasm, got cold feet and released the pilot as a science fiction/mystery film.
There is good news for those who have seen the film and liked it, Netflix is apparently thinking of taking over this series that never was. Of course the last word on the show being picked up by the streaming service was back in March 2015 so it could still be that this film remains a one-off.
Directed, and co written, by Christopher Leone (Suit up, Wolfpack of Reseda) and starring a cast of relatively unknown upcoming actors, the pilot has a hook not too dissimilar from that of the Stephen King/Peter Straub novels The Talisman and its sequel Black House which told the story of Jack Sawyer whose own father is a traveler, much like the dad in Parallels, who was murdered by his business partner.
In the first book, Jack learns that he is a “oner;” a version of himself that has no equivalent in other worlds. This could be Ronan Carver (Mark Hapka) who learns that in at least one world he does not exist. Of course in the King/Straub books, except for the “oners” when one travelled to another parallel world they did not physically make the journey. Instead they inhabit the mind of their twinner.
Of course the biggest difference between the two tales is that The Talisman and its sequel are fantasy and Parallels is squarely in science fiction territory. Some of the plot seems very familiar, or as Polly (Constance Wu) puts it, has a sense of “deja vu,” is the introduction of a nuclear bomb which destroys one version of the world, or at least the town the Carvers and their little troop travel to.
The film follows Ronan, his sister Beatrix (Jessica Rothe), family friend Harold, aka Harry (Eric Jungmann) and, later, Polly; who comes from another world. At the start of the film, Ronan is getting beaten in a cage fighting bout and afterward gets a call from his elusive and estranged father telling him to go home immediately and then head to a building.
Once he arrives home, he finds Beatrix there having received the same message. They discover their father’s traveling bag in the trunk of his car and meeting up with Harold, who is desperate to get away from his mother, the three go to the building.
The story moves at a steady pace and there are enough twists and turns to keep the viewer’s interest piqued. The introduction of Polly, who reveals that the ball shaped item Ronan found in his dad’s bag comes from the “core” Earth, serves a dual purpose, she seems so be the fly in the ointment. She also explains that despite what must be an indefinite amount of parallel earths, there is one that is the original or “core.”
Leone does a great job on the pilot and he will hopefully get a chance to continue helming, and writing, this interesting science fiction tale of earth parallels with a nod to Stephen King. The news that Netflix may be producing the show after Fox apparently dropped it, is not so surprising. Other shows, that made it past the pilot stage, (like Longmire, for instance) have been picked up by the streaming service and will continue as per usual.
Regardless of whether the show will actually be picked up or not, the pilot as film, is entertaining and worth watching. This one is a 4.5 out of 5, half a point off for a little too much deja vu.