Time Lapse (2014)
Time Lapse (2014)
Director: Bradley King
Cast: Danielle Panabaker, Matt O’Leary, George Finn
Synopsis: Three friends discover a mysterious machine that takes pictures 24 hours into the future and conspire to use it for personal gain, until disturbing and dangerous images begin to develop.
Time travel is an endlessly fascinating subject, both for movie-makers and audiences, and low-budget indie entry Time Lapse contrives to offer a unique perspective on a familiar concept, with the protagonists essentially becoming prisoners of their future, rather than the future suffering at the hands of their injudicious tinkering. That it’s characters make rather stupid decisions is perhaps dictated by the demands of the storyline and is, in fact, quite acceptably explained by the movie, but ultimately the plot ties itself in knots from which it can only extricate itself with a late twist that doesn’t really make a lot of sense – but which fuels no end of debate on internet message boards…
The three leads share an improbable relationship; Finn (Matt O’Leary – The Lone Ranger, Eden) is a creatively blocked artist making ends meet by working as the building manager of a block of chalets. He shares an apartment with his girlfriend, Callie (Danielle Panabaker), from whom he has grown increasingly remote, and his best friend, Jasper (George Finn). Quite why Callie would tolerate sharing her home with a pill-pushing, gambling-addicted low-life like Jasper is an issue which is never addressed, but then co-writers BP Cooper and Bradley King (who also directed) aren’t interested in the fine detail, as evidenced when Callie stumbles across a strange camera bolted to the floor of a tenant’s room which is pointed directly at the picture window of her and Finn’s lounge. Quite how this contraption works is never explained, but it doesn’t really matter -sometimes explanations have a way of flattening a story and blinding us with unnecessary science.
The contraption belongs to a Dr. Bezzerides, whose burned up body our three protagonists find in a locked cellar. It turns out Bezzerides was something of a scientist (obviously a work-at-home one) who had figured out a way of taking photos of the future. It only shoots snaps of exactly 24 hours ahead, but it doesn’t take long for the trio to appreciate the benefits such a tool can bestow upon its new owners, and the first snap shows a list of dog race winners taped to the window. Clearly, Jasper’s ambitions are a little low, but it’s not long before he’s scoring a string of winners, much to the increasing annoyance of his sleazy bookmaker (Jason Spisak – Piranha 3D) who persuasively demands to know just how Jasper is managing to win every bet he places (that’s right – Jasper’s not too smart). Meanwhile, Finn finds that his stalled creative streak has become irrelevant as all he has to do is copy the painting he sees in each day’s photograph, and Callie finds ways to rekindle the romance in their relationship.
Like most time travel movies, Time Lapse raises twice as many questions as it answers. The trio become prisoners of the machine because of the mistaken belief that Bezzerides’ terminal case of heavy-duty sunburn is the result of failing to create whatever situation the following day’s photograph reveals to them. The future effectively dictates the present, becoming a self-perpetuating phenomenon. But then, a key plot point hinges upon one of the characters manipulating the messages that will appear in tomorrow’s photograph in order to alter the outcomes of the present, thereby presumably creating a string of alternate timelines. This, in itself, becomes a self-defeating exercise as the individual manipulating the messages wouldn’t be the one to benefit from that manipulation.
Despite the inevitable problems, Time Lapse makes for an entertaining story that finds a clever way of overcoming its clearly limited budget, and is unshackled by a studio movie’s need to keep things simple in order not to alienate what they consider to be the majority of moviegoers occupying the lower rungs of the intelligence ladder. It will get you thinking, and it will tie you in knots if you let it.
(Reviewed 21st June 2015)