Published Oct 22, 2014You don't fuck with time. That's the philosophical takeaway - an idea espoused time and time again by one of the lead characters - in Bradley King's Twilight Zone-esque feature-length debut, Time Lapse, a film that takes the classic time travel conceit one step further by reimagining it as a vehicle that only shows glimpses of the future, rather than a device designed to reshape the past.
The story concerns three friends wasting their lives away in underemployed jobs (if they have one at all) while living together in a strange sort of semi-gated housing complex: Finn (Matt O'Leary) is an art grad who has lost his artistic mojo and spends his days working as the property's building manager; Jasper (George Finn, who shines most bright here) is an unemployed, pill-popping jerk with a gambling addiction; Callie (Danielle Panabaker), Finn's girlfriend, is a cross between the two characters, worrying about her lack of funds while working as a waitress and dreaming of a day when she can focus on her writing full-time.
But when Finn goes to check on an elderly gentleman living across the street from them who has strangely disappeared, all their lives are changed for the better (or so it seems) when he discovers an unusual camera that spits out polaroid images taken 24 hours in the future pointed directly at their living room window. Jasper, like all assholes in movies concerning time travel, immediately pulls a Biff and tries to exploit the device's powers, convincing himself that his future self would post the day's dog racing results in their window so he can win bets in the past.
The crooked scheme works and the whole trio begin winning Scrooge McDuck levels of currency. Better yet, Finn - unable to paint for all this time - notices his blank canvas has been filled out in the future, allowing him to simply recreate the paintings he's completed 24 hours from now and bypass his creative block entirely, giving both male leads the financial and artistic freedom they so readily desire.
Not surprisingly, Jasper's bookie begins to question the validity of his consistent betting and goes to investigate why he's been winning so much. His visit kicks off a whole chain of events that cause the group to nearly split in two as greed, lust and the power of the mysterious machine begin to take hold.
It's a simple - albeit inventive - twist on the traditional time travel story, meaning that those looking for Doctor Who-esque blasts from the past (and future) will have to look elsewhere. That being said, Time Lapse is a gripping character drama camouflaged as a low-key sci-fi thriller that makes use of its supposedly minimal budget by placing the action solely in one room and in the hands of its able actors. All three of the film's leads are excellent here, perfectly encapsulating the friendship, jealousy and feelings of disdain that occur when three sexually active 20-somethings live together under the same roof. Aiding them on their journey is a tight script from the film's director and writer, B. P. Cooper. This is one of the most natural sounding examples of dialogue witnessed in quite some time - sci-fi film or otherwise - and is made all the better by how well the film's protagonists and villains execute it.
Naturally, such a good movie with such a heady concept has some slight issues near its conclusion. To wrap it up in such a neat package, some sacrifices have to be made in terms of storyline, meaning most viewers will see what's coming a mile away. Still, Time Lapse is one of the most enjoyable pictures in recent memory and deserves to be seen.