Director Kourosh Ahari Discusses Parallel

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Parallel follows a grieving wife on a mind-bending journey after nearly being killed by a mysterious doppelgänger. Daniel Deadwyler stars alongside Aldis and Edwin Hodge, who also produced the film, as a family in crisis at a remote lake house. Their efforts to reconnect after the death of her only child lead to a startling exploration of alternate realities.




Director Kourosh Ahari is sublime in his second feature. He calls the collaborative process with Deadwyler and the Hodge brothers a learning “experience” after having “so much control” in his first film, The Night. Everyone came to “a unique vision” after being put together by Paradigm, their management agency. Ahari had seen Parallel Forest, the original Chinese film, and was “fascinated” by the concept of “alternate universes” and using the “elements of nature as a catalyst in the phenomenon.”

Parallel was filmed over a physically demanding “16 days” in freezing cold Vancouver, Canada. Ahari “spent some time in the forest alone” to “capture the vastness of nature and how that controls what’s happening to these characters.” He credits “being in that environment, shooting through that intense schedule, and working in the elements” with making the post-production process “even easier in the edit.”



A Unique Vision for Parallel

Parallel

Parallel

3.5/5

Release Date
February 23, 2024

Director
Kourosh Ahari

Runtime
88 Minutes

Studio(s)
Rumble Riot Pictures , Hodge Brothers Productions , Mammoth Pictures

Distributor(s)
Vertical Entertainment

Read Our Review

MovieWeb: I congratulate you on a mind-blowing, very absorbing film. Let’s start with the Hodge brothers. This is their baby. They fostered this into creation. How did you get involved with them?

Kourosh Ahari: My agency, Paradigm, also represents Aldis and Edwin. So, at the time, I recently came out with my first film, The Night, and my wonderful team was getting that work out there. Edwin and Aldis were looking for a director for this film. They watched my first film, they liked it, and then we got on the phone or Zoom like this. We had a conversation. I told them how I feel about this story, what ideas we can play with. We hit it right then in that first meeting.


Kourosh Ahari: From there on, it was just a whole process of working through the script, looking at different approaches, seeing what’s right, and how we should execute it. It was an experience for me, for sure. I came from my first movie being fully in control and deciding, because I was one of the writers, producer, and directing. I had so much control in every single element. In this one, I had to collaborate with a group of people that all had a vision. We had to come to one single unique vision for it.

MW:Parallel is based on a Chinese film called Parallel Forest. I spoke to Aldis, he was blown away by that film. Did you see Parallel Forest before meeting them?


Kourosh Ahari: I did see it. And I even read the script before meeting with them. The Chinese film had a very interesting and fun element that they were playing with, which was the idea of parallel spaces using the elements of nature as a catalyst in the phenomenon. I’m personally very fascinated with multiverse and alternative universes. I played in some of that idea in my first film, and then this was the opportunity to go with something very special. Then, ultimately, we had a lot of discussions. The decision was made instead of playing with those elements. The visual kind of differences led to the performers or actors who really carry the story. That’s what they really liked about the Chinese version. That’s the approach they wanted to take. The more simplistic approach of these characters being in this space and going through a journey. Through their performances, we would explore that story with them.

13:14

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MW: This is what I consider to be granular sci-fi. The story revolves between these three actors in this remote Vancouver lake house. We see the story through Danielle Deadwyler’s character, Vanessa. She’s in trauma. She’s having problems with her husband and his brother. Then, she is attacked by her doppelgänger. There is no levity. The characters are constantly in this grinding search for something. How was that process handled over a 20-day shoot?

Kourosh Ahari: Well, first of all, it was 16 days (laughs). We had so many conversations beforehand. That helps a lot with being able to shoot on such an intense schedule. We knew where each character was at the beginning, where they were supposed to go, and what that journey was going to be. The process of that was quite easy. I don’t remember anything crazy. We were so in sync, and creating the tension between the characters was set in the script from the beginning. The characters were coming into it already having that energy among themselves. Aldis’ character, Alex, is trying to make things better. He thinks he can control the situation, but still the heaviness is there. You have to let time and nature balance that out.


The Talented Danielle Deadwyler

MW: Danielle Deadwyler, a superb actress, owns this film. She’s riveting. Were you involved in casting her? What was it like bringing her on to the film? She adds the most depth.

Kourosh Ahari: We had a lot of conversations on who this character of Vanessa is going to be. Because she was going to be the one who carries the story. We had a lot of conversations with different talent, and different ideas of talents. Danielle was recommended to me through my agency, Paradigm. I saw her work, and I really enjoyed it. I shared that with the brothers. It took a little time because we were figuring out the logistics of the shoot. Her name came up again, from Paradigm to them specifically. Then we looked at her and decided she’s the one. She’s the right person for this role. It was proven to us at a very early stage.


Kourosh Ahari: We had a table read where we went through the whole script. Even at that table read, the scene where Vanessa interacts with the hunter Vanessa, or the one with the gun at the end. She did that in such a subtle way. You know it’s the same person, but at the same time feels so different. When she came on set, she was even beyond that. She was so in that character and almost lived in that character throughout the whole shoot. She knew exactly where she was coming from and where she was supposed to go. It was honestly a blast shooting with her… I was able to get max two takes and move on. And with her, it was always in that first and second take. It’s just such a fun experience to have.


MW: Her facial inflections and eyes, you can just see the pain. Then we see the doppelgängers. It’s completely different. She’s an amazing actress. Let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of your direction. The film is brilliantly edited. You’re seeing these characters from different points of view. Aldis spoke about the freezing cold weather in Vancouver. Talk about linking that grueling physical process to post-production.

Kourosh Ahari: I think all of that helped being in the space. I went there a little early on during our prep time. I spent some time in the forest alone. What that environment, plus the weather, brought onto screen, and we shot in large format, was to really capture the vastness of nature, and how that nature controls what’s happening to these characters. So being in that environment, shooting through that intense shooting schedule, and working in the elements that we had, it just made it even easier in the edit. We had certain points; we would just let the scene go and let that feeling carry the way to what the audience receives.


13:08

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MW: Do you believe in the existence of parallel universes? Or are we predestined to live our lives by some higher power?

Kourosh Ahari: I do believe in the multiverse and alternative universes. It’s something that fascinates me. I played into that in my first film, too, just a tiny bit. Martel’s character says it nicely about us not being in control. That’s what I firmly believe in. Sometimes, the elements of nature, the universe, whatever you want to call it, is trying to put us in the right direction. And if we realize that, maybe we just have to follow that and stop trying to control everything, then we’ll get better results.


Parallel is currently available on demand and in limited theatrical release from Vertical. You can watch the trailer below and find a link to rent the film:

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