Parallel is a 2020 science-fiction thriller directed by Isaac Ezban who’s also given us The Incident. The film follows a group of entrepreneurs who discover a mirror that takes them to other realities. Don’t worry that’s not a spoiler, it’s in the trailer, and the movie’s name makes it pretty clear too. The poster feels a lot like Coherence, given it’s on the same sci-fi topic. The Parallel cast sees Georgia King, Martin Wallström, Mark O’Brien and Aml Ameen in the leading roles. This article will also cover the possible plot-holes in the film and how they could have been avoided. Here’s the plot analysis and ending of the 2020 movie Parallel explained; spoilers ahead.
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Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:
Parallel Movie’s Mirror: What does it do?
The mirror in the movie Parallel acts as a portal between parallel universes. It needs to be placed at a particular location and also at a specific angle for it to work. I’ll go further to speculate that this mirror has been there for as long as the house has. In this universe (prime-universe), many have lived in the house after the residents who first placed the mirror in its spot. We are given no back-story as to who they were and how they did it. Along with the mirror, they also set up surveillance to track each room’s movements. The same thing has also happened in all other universes.
Marissa (the old lady), the previous owner, happens to have found the mirror sealed in the Attic and begins using it to visit multiple realities. After closing off the Attic, she leaves this prime-universe forever. As far as the town is concerned, a lonely old lady in this house mysteriously disappeared 2 years ago.
Parallel Movie Beginning Explained: Who are the 2 Old Ladies? What’s going on?
The beginning of the movie Parallel gives away what the film is about – Multiple Universes. We witness this scene set in an alternate universe. The old woman, Marissa, who has a happy married life, is killed by herself from the prime-universe. Why does she do this? Well, in the prime-universe, Marissa’s husband died on a hiking trail. She got old and lonely. She happened to stumble upon a mirror that took her to other parallel universes. She travelled to multiple universes and realized there are a few realities where her husband is still alive. So she decides she’s going to steal the life of another Marissa from an alternate reality. This scene gives us a gist of what the film is about – parallel realities and people stealing from alternate selves and universes.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the explanation of the movie Parallel.
Parallel Movie Plot Explained
We are introduced to a bunch of techies who run a start-up from the house Marissa lived in. The app they’re trying to get investment for is called Meter Maid, a parking space rental app.
Noel – Top Dog. Front-face for the company.
Devin – The second front-face for the company, also an old college mate of Noel. He likes Leena.
Josh – Ace developer.
Leena – Designer and artist. She was in a relationship with Noel, but they broke up.
Other Relevant Characters
Seth – A competitor, looking to get to the market ahead of the gang with a similar app.
Carmen – The Bartender with an angry boyfriend. Josh has a crush on her.
At an earlier time, Devin happens to disclose Meter Maid’s details to Seth in close confidence. Seth steals the idea and develops a solution faster and takes it to the same investors the gang is pitching to. The investors tell Noel and Devin that Seth reached out with the promise to deliver a similar app within a couple of days, and they refuse to wait for 4 weeks to see Meter Maid ready. Furious, Noel and Devin go and confront Seth and return home defeated.
Discovering the Attic and Mirror
In the evening, the gang heads to the local bar where Carmen tells them that the house they rent belonged to an old lady (Marissa) who abruptly disappeared two years ago. Back at home, an argument leads to the gang discovering a portion of the Attic which has the mirror hidden away. A hidden stairway leads from the Attic to the side of the house.
Plot-hole: The hidden Attic is rather large. From the outside of the house, it would be evident that there are parts of the house that can’t be accessed from inside. It’s unrealistic that a space this large goes unnoticed, especially by a bank. This also goes for the side doors on the outside. It’s too obvious to be ignored and left alone.
Fix: The hidden area could have been a small portion of the basement as it wouldn’t have been visible from the outside and therefore remained undiscovered. The stairs could have lead to a concealed door, a false wall on the outside, thus staying hidden.
In the Attic, the gang finds the mirror and uses it to understand its operational rules.
Rules of the Mirror
To explain the movie Parallel, it’s important to understand these rules.
- Each time a person enters it, they come out on the other side in an alternate universe. When they enter the mirror in the alternate reality, they return back to the prime-universe.
- Every trip through the mirror takes the person to a random alternate universe, there is no saying how many there might be, and there is no way to choose the destination.
- Objects and people need to be touching each other to go to the same alternate universe. If they go one behind the other, each one is sent to a different parallel universe.
- Time Dilation is 180 times. Which means, if they leave the prime-universe at 9:00 AM, they will enter an alternate universe at 9:00 AM on the same day. If they stay in that reality for 180 minutes, i.e. till 12PM, and return, only 1 minute would have passed in the prime-universe, i.e. it would be 9:01 AM.
- The mirror works in that specific location and that particular angle. If the angle is changed, the portal closes.
Plot-hole: Each time the group goes to an alternate reality, they always see themselves living in the house. But remember, in some universes, Marissa would be living happily with her husband because he never died. In many other realities, Marissa would have not found the mirror and hence have never left. Which would mean the gang would have never taken up this house on rent.
Fix 1: Instead of saying two years, they could have simply stated that 15 years back, Marissa disappeared. This solves for three possibilities.
- Marissa lived alone, never discovered the mirror and died of age. Years later, the gang took the property on rent.
- Marissa lived with her husband, who didn’t die on the hiking trail. The old couple eventually died of age and years after, the gang took the property on rent.
- Marissa left her reality to replace an alternate reality version of herself. Over a decade later, the gang took the property on rent.
Fix 2: Keep Marissa’s disappearance to two years, but show a few alternate universes where Marissa still lives in the house (with and without her husband).
Using Time Dilation to complete Meter Maid
Noel and Josh go to an alternate reality and use the advantage of time dilation to complete Meter Maid. The two spend over a month in the alternate Attic to wrap up the app and return to the prime-universe. For Leena and Devin, it’s been about 5 hours. They win the deal and rub it on Seth’s face. They want to use the mirror to gain more, so they try many things to profit from it.
Josh tries to gets the winning lottery number from an alternate reality, but since the drawn number’s probability is very high, the two universes don’t have the same exact winning numbers. They try to look for other leads, but the histories of all realities are identical and the gang doesn’t have any arbitrage.
Artistic Decisions are Different
Plot-Hole: We see Noel and Josh blow up a million dollars in an alternate reality. There is no explanation of how they could have access to that kind of money in another universe. Maybe they took it in bags, but it would have not been easy.
Fix: This scene didn’t bring value to the film. I understand the humour attempted, but it was unnecessary.
After blowing up the cash, they find a movie called Frankenstein starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. It dawns upon the gang that artistic decisions have a high degree of variance between realities. Having found their advantage, Noel and Josh are happy to steal inventions from other universes which haven’t happened yet in the prime-universe. Leena decides that she will steal art from different realities in the same way (as her career as an artist never took off). Devin finds this to be a terrible idea but plays along. Soon, the gang become uber-rich.
Josh’s Death and the Terrible Decision
Josh has been going to alternate realities and hooking up with Carmen by giving her tracks from her favourite band that were never made. One such trip, Josh asks Devin to join. While alternate-Carmen and Josh get it on, Devin waits in the hall like a gentleman, with headphones to drown the noise. Unfortunately, Carmen’s boyfriend shows up and shoots Josh. Devin and Josh return back to the prime-universe. Devin asks Noel to call 911, but Noel avoids it as he doesn’t want to explain the mystery bullet in Josh, who bleeds out and dies.
They further mess things up by stashing Josh’s dead body in the Attic of an alternate reality and drugging an alternate-Josh and bringing him back to the prime-universe. When alternate-Josh wakes up, they tell him how they’ve been able to sell Meter Maid and give him a small sum of money (ten thousand dollars). Noel also gets Josh a job at Stanley Tech, his dream company.
How does Noel get Josh the Job at Stanley Tech?
Plot-Hole: Noel somehow gets an employee at Stanley Tech to post videos about bombing the office. How did he do this? This is a sane employee who would have otherwise not done something like this.
Fix: Perhaps, Noel went to an alternate universe, kidnapped and forced that employee to make the video recordings. He then brought them back and published them in the prime-universe. But considering Josh was good at his job, the position at Stanley could have been on merit. Yes, the intention was to show Noel is evil, but we come to know that in many other ways. Doing it this way raised too many questions on how Noel did it.
Over time, alternate-Josh loses his mind because everything in the prime-universe is different from how he remembers it. He tries to talk to Leena about it, but she shrugs it off.
Devin and his Father
A quick side story here is Devin’s father was a con-man, and years ago when he was caught, Devin tells his dad that he hated him. Hearing this, his father commits suicide. Devin has lived with this guilt all his life. He goes to multiple realities until he finds one where his father didn’t commit suicide. Devin meets him at the prison and gets closure telling his dad that he never meant what he said. That’s all there is about this thread, it doesn’t wire back into the explanation of the Parallel movie as such.
What happened to the Original Devin?
Devin confesses his love to Leena and shows that he still keeps the entry pass from her first gallery show. Leena begins to hate her success because it’s not fulfilling to pass someone else’s work as her own. Devin and Leena make out, and Noel watches them from the viewing device in the Attic. Noel seemingly kills Devin and dumps him in an alternate timeline, he drugs and brings an alternate-Devin back as a replacement. How do we know Noel killed Devin? Because he can’t risk Devin returning back; all Devin has to do is enter the mirror in the alternate universe. Noel lies to alternate-Devin that Seth is suing them and he needs to leave town.
Leena tracks alternate-Devin’s phone and confronts him, asking why he’s leaving. She doesn’t know that this Devin is from an alternate reality. But soon as alternate-Devin discloses having no memory of them having sex the previous night, she realizes what Noel has done. Leena leaves, and alternate-Devin finds a message from Devin on his phone explaining everything about the mirror. Devin was paranoid that one day Noel may do to him what he did to Josh.
Alternate-Josh, Alternate-Noel and Noel
Alternate-Devin calls Alternate-Josh, and they talk about how Noel has been keeping the various companies a secret from them. Alternate-Josh sneaks into Noel’s house and finds himself at the Attic. Here he sees Noel magically appear from a mirror. This Noel is from an alternate universe, we’ll get to that in a moment. Alternate-Josh holds Alternate-Noel at gunpoint demanding to move the mirror.
Plot-Hole: Alternate-Josh has no clue about the mirror does, or that he’s from an alternate universe. There is no reason for him to ask Noel to unbolt the mirror. Also this alternate-Noel has followed a different path in his reality. He wouldn’t be dressed in the exact same clothes as Noel.
Fix: Alternate-Josh could have just been very surprised and asked Noel for an explanation about the mirror. And in the process they begin fighting. Also, alternate-Noel would be dressed in different clothes.
Alternate-Noel is in the prime-universe because he, too, happened to find a mirror in the Attic in his reality. He just walks in at an unfortunate moment. Alternate-Noel and alternate-Josh fight for the gun and alternate-Noel gets shot. Right then, Noel (from the prime-universe) returns and kills alternate-Josh and alternate-Noel.
Leena and Alternate-Devin vs Noel
Leena walks in on Noel and realizes he’s gone bat-sh*t crazy. He explains how he wants to be the Edison of his time and even shows pictures of him confessing love to Leenas of other universes; apparently he was practicing. She plays along and gets hold of Noel’s weapon but can’t use it as it’s fingerprint-activated. She tries to escape in through the mirror, but Noel grabs her. Suddenly we find alternate-Devin pointing a gun at Noel who uses Leena as a human-shield.
Plot-hole: Where are the dead bodies and the bloody mess that should have been in the area they are standing in? How does alternate-Devin have [what appears to be] alternate-Josh’s gun? The reason I bring this up is because many got confused which reality this scene was happening in.
Fix: While the dead bodies might be just outside the frame, Alternate-Devin could have been shown to enter the Attic and see Noel and Leena struggle. Devin sees the blood bath, dead bodies, and then picks up the gun lying beside the bodies. Noel doesn’t notice alternate-Devin sneak up on him. As Noel and alternate-Devin have their standoff, there could have been blood on the floor and perhaps legs of the dead body(s) in the frame.
Leena gets out of the way, and alternate-Devin shoots Noel who backs away into the mirror. Fearing his return, Leena kicks the mirror and changes its angle. Noel, half returned, has the portal close on him, and he gets severed in half.
Parallel Movie Ending Explained
Leena says the portal is evil and should be destroyed. Alternate-Devin, realizing that the mirror allows travel between multiple universes, thinks it can be lucrative. Leena convinces him otherwise and smashes the mirror.
Plot-hole: Alternate-Devin knows he’s in the wrong universe. He’s gotten all the information about the mirror from the video message from Devin. Alternate-Devin has a regular life in his own reality. No bloodbath, no crazy events. There is no reason for him to choose to stay back in the prime-universe. He’d simply say, “Hey Leena, good luck with everything, but you can shatter your mirror after I go back to my own reality”.
Fix: Alternate-Devin could have either left Leena to return to his own reality, or she could have chosen to go back to alternate-Devin’s reality. Over there, the two could have chosen to elope and live a life away from the gang. Leena is the one who has nothing left in her universe.
Anyway, alternate-Devin and Leena donate all the earnings anonymously to charities and beat town. On their way out, they stop at a gas station. When Leena goes to use the restroom, we see a flash. While not shown, an alternate-Leena from a parallel universe has somehow figured another portal and has used it to come to the prime-universe. Presumably, she kills Leena and takes her place. The ending of the movie Parallel shows alternate-Leena go to the car where alternate-Devin is waiting. The two of them drive away.
Plot-hole: They stop at the gas station for a short moment, alternate-Leena could have never guessed this location and this precise time to arrive and kill Leena. Let’s assume that alternate-Leena was left all alone in her reality and she was miserable. She would still need to spend days (probably months) to locate an alternate portal or a universe where the mirror was in that bathroom. Assuming that the events that transpired in this alternate reality were so bizarrely different, it still wouldn’t be possible for an alternate-Leena to randomly land at that exact moment Leena stopped to take a bathroom break at a random gas station on the way out of town.
Fix: Not every movie needs to end like Inception. A thriller like this could have simply ended with Leena leaving to an alternate reality where her friends are alive and happy. To amp up the ending’s darkness, she could have done the same thing Marissa did in the first scene: kill and replace her alternate self and bring the events back to a full cycle. Alternately, Leena has learnt her lesson about stealing another person’s art or life, and is no murderer. After alternate-Devin leaves, Leena simply destroys the mirror and leaves town to start a new life. Finding the mirror was a massive coincidence in the first place, she doesn’t have to run into another mirror-portal. That way it’s congruent with what was shown in the film – that in other groups the gang didn’t always find the mirror.
That’s it from me. What did you think about the film, do you have theories that explain the movie Parallel and its ending? Please do drop a comment below, let’s discuss.
Barry is a technologist who helps start-ups build successful products. His love for movies and production has led him to write his well-received film explanation and analysis articles to help everyone appreciate the films better. He’s regularly available for a chat conversation on his website and consults on storyboarding from time to time.
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