Early on, one of the characters in Parallel asks, "Don't you believe in fate?" It's an offhand remark -- he's trying to impress a girl -- but it also sums up the entire movie. Sometimes, everything hinges on a specific event happening at a specific time, and if you're even a few seconds too early or too late, your entire life can end up in some very strange places.

In this case, things hinge on the birthday party that Anna (Melissa Veszi) throws for herself. Among her guests are Heather (Faye Sewell) and Neil (David Magowan), who hit it off instantly, just as Anna had hoped. Despite working for the same advertising firm, which seems like it might be too much togetherness, things go great for them for several weeks. They move in together awfully quickly, but they seem genuinely head over heels about each other.

Then fate intervenes again, in the form of an unexpected meeting with a man named Machlis (Brian Carter). He's a psychic, he says, and Heather is intrigued. But he isn't a traditional psychic, since he reads neither palms nor auras and freely admits he can't predict the future. No, what he does is allow people to observe their 'negative' selves -- their evil twins, if you will, living in a world parallel to our own. Though doubtful at first, both Neil and Heather give it a try and become reluctantly fascinated with their other selves.

Though Machlis says that negative energy doesn't necessarily equal "evil", it does for all practical purposes. It's a wonder anyone's other self survives for very long over there. Even that crucial birthday party feels different, and that's before the alternate Heather and Neil completely miss each other and instead hook up with two truly terrifying people. While "Neil" falls under the spell of femme fatale Rhianna (Francesca Sgrò), "Heather" becomes fascinated with con man and killer Roy (Daniel Westwood). Though in that world our heroes might not have been any better off if they had met each other first, honestly.

Even back in reality things aren't going well. Many of Heather's visits to Machlis are in secret, and Neil isn't exactly forthcoming about his own trips there. And as real as the other world seems -- which is very real indeed -- there's still the lingering possibility that Machlis is himself a con man after their money. He is charging them £50 per hour, after all. But whether or not his strange gift is real, the fact is that both Neil and Heather are far too caught up in their vicarious lives to stop now, even when their jobs, their relationship, and finally their lives are threatened.

It's a fascinating premise, deftly handled. Brian Carter has the unenviable task of handling the exposition, but he manages to do it well, talking of impossible things in a quiet, steady voice and keeping the information understandable. Sewell and Magowan capably create a convincing relationship from whirlwind beginning to the beginning of the end. I would have liked to have seen more of a steady build of tension, since most of that seemed to happen at the end, but though I wouldn't call the final twist a shock, it certainly made for an edge-of-your-seat finale. Sometimes the things that are hidden from us are hidden for a very good reason.

Neil and Heather in happier times, when the world still made sense.


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