Bradley King | 99 mins | streaming (HD) | 16:9 | USA / English
Shallow Grave meets Primer in this indie thriller that sees three housemates discover a camera that takes photos 24 hours into the future. They initially use it to their financial advantage, but soon Things Go Wrong™.
Time Lapse has a sci-fi setup, but it’s a film driven by its characters rather than its high concept. The whys and hows of the machine are incidental (who created it and what happened to him is a plot point, but how he did it isn’t), it’s what it does to the characters that matters. The images of the future soon depict tableaux that throw their relationships with one another into question. Moments are seen that one or more of them wouldn’t like the others to see. But if they know the camera is there, why would they do that in front of it? And do they have to recreate it? What happens to Time Itself™ if they don’t?
So it’s a thriller, really, albeit one about three normal characters and their relationships rather than the usual thriller stomping grounds of terrorists or criminals (although there are a few of the latter). There are answers to the mysteries, and at least one game-changing twist that’s an absolute killer. Co-writer/director Bradley King does a first-class job of concealing its presence, only for its reveal to be damningly obvious and explain some things you mightn’t’ve thought would be explained — pretty much a perfect kind of twist, in other words.
The very low-key nature of Time Lapse will put some people off. If you like your sci-fi full of action or scientists or world-saving/changing endeavours, it’s not for you. If you like sci-fi where an impossible concept throws ordinary people into dilemmas about themselves and each other, this is a well-conceived drama. Add in an engrossing mystery element that keeps you questioning and guessing until the end, and you have a minor gem.
Time Lapse is released in US theaters and on demand today, and on Blu-ray from Tuesday June 16th. In the UK, it’s already available on Sky Movies and Now TV, and to rent or buy through all the usual digital providers.
(Despite the latter, the film seems to have no official BBFC rating (Sky go with 15; Amazon say U; iTunes keep schtum), which I’m pretty sure is illegal…)