Earlier this year Jeff Barnaby’s Blood Quantum skillfully infused Indigenous culture into traditional zombie tropes, and now Benjamin Ross Hayden’s Parallel Minds aims to do the same thing for the science fiction genre. Set in a near future, the film the revolves around a revolutionary contact lens that not only extracts memories; but allows the wearer to virtually revisit key moments of their past. When the lead scientist, Dr. Elise Perrott (Michelle Thrush), is murdered as the product nears launch, it is up to her protégé Margo Elson (Tommie-Amber Pirie) and a rough around the edges detective Thomas Elliot (Greg Bryk) to find her killer.
Using the murder as a jumping off point, Hayden’s film builds an intriguing mystery that takes one down the competitive rabbit hole of the tech industry. Along the way Parallel Minds explores the power of memory and the ways society has routinely used force to take from the Indigenous community. While it is great to see Indigenous futurism get some love on screen, and a film where women are consistently the smartest people in the room, Hayden’s film struggles to live up to its intriguing premise.
Despite the interesting concept, and special effects driven environments, they cannot mask the film’s flaws. Unfortunately, many of Parallel Minds’ shortcomings can be traced back to its script. Rather than trust in the viewer’s ability to decipher the things left unsaid, Hayden’s film frequently telegraphs every action. This not only disrupts the flow of the film; but takes away from powerful reflective moments such as when Hayden references the horrific lingering impact of Canada’s residence schools. The script also does not give the talented cast much to work with. Although there is plenty of promise sprinkled throughout, Parallel Minds is not quite the game changer it could have been.