Directed by: #ArunKumar
Alike is the story of a man (Midhun Kumar) who discovers he has a doppelgänger wandering the streets. Murderous antics ensue. The fear of something similar, yet different, is an interesting one that has been explored in many great works of art.
Regrettably, Alike isn’t one of them.
It’s unfocused and suffers from ambitious but misplaced directorial choices and clunky acting. There is certainly some level of talent behind this production, but it seems that director Arun Kumar simply threw a number of clever filmmaking tricks at the wall, without any rhyme or reason.
The chief issue with Alike is its poor dialogue. Screenwriting rules aplenty are broken, with the lead character and the man on the phone outright stating their intentions and feelings. This makes everything sound forced and unnatural, hurting the realistic, credible tone we can only assume the director was going for. Unfortunately, the grammar and intonation are both scrappy too, which is distracting. Equally, the word ‘dude’ is used to within an inch of its life.
Looking at the positives however, there are some nice musical cues. The soundtrack by various different artists doesn’t always gel, but in the home invasion sequence towards the film’s end, the tense motif does successfully build a sense of dread. Equally, there are commendable #filmmaking and editing techniques scattered throughout. A split screen to show the duality of the protagonist and his alter ego, and the time lapse from day to night is wonderfully done.
However, many techniques are used without coherence. We’re constantly shown the time, for seemingly no reason. The events happen over two days, so it doesn’t seem a relevant factor. Equally, some of the transitions between scenes are jarring and do not fit the tone of a tension riddled thriller in the slightest. The acapella ringtone is equally random and, while impressive, it doesn’t really add anything.
Pacing and narrative structure are also issues. Things seem to happen without much cause and effect. It isn’t clear what the doppelgänger wants, other than to murder the friend of the lead. Other than that, the audience is left in the dark. This isn’t a case of being intentionally ambiguous, but rather a lack of clear vision. The pacing is sluggish, which really damages attempts at suspense. This is particularly problematic in the chase scene, which lacks any kind of interest due to our lack of investment into the wants and needs of the players. Despite so much dialogue, not much is said.
In review, Alike is unfortunately, a mess. It at times has good camera work, some creative editing, and a strong score that supports the tone. But despite these achievements, the largely incomprehensible narrative, poor pacing, wooden acting, and scattergun approach to directing hurt it. With more focus and a tighter edit to remove the more random elements, this has the potential to be a really cool, tense short #thriller. As it is, this is one doppelgänger, you’ll want to avoid.