In the world of science fiction, it is often forgotten that sometimes the simplest things are the most effective. Take Bradley King’s feature film debut Time Lapse for example. Despite being a tale revolving around time travel, the film rarely gets bogged down with the science at its core. In fact, King is so trusting that the audience will simply “just go with it” that the technical mumbo jumbo is relegated to a few choice scenes of expository dialogue.
Free from having to explain the complicated depths associated with time travel, King is able to focus his lens on the ways in which greed can slowly erode friendships. The film is centred around three roommates – Callie (The Flash’s Danielle Panabaker), Finn (Brick‘s Matt O’Leary) and Jasper (George Finn) – who discover a mysterious machine in their recently deceased neighbour’s home. The massive machine, aimed directly at their house no less, has the ability to take Polaroid pictures 24hrs into the future. Seeing the financial possibilities of being able to know things in advance, the trio decides to keep both the man’s death and the machine hidden.
Reaping the numerous benefits, the friends find their lives drastically improving from both a financial and creative standpoint. Their good fortunes eventually hit a snag when Jasper’s gambling bookie, Ivan (Jason Spisak), shows up determined to find the source of Jasper’s unbelievable winning streak. As if the presence of Ivan was not bad enough, a scientist (Sharon Maughan) also comes inquiring about her missing colleague. With the walls slowly closing in on them, and the paranoia rising, the friends must decide how much they are willing to sacrifice to keep their secret.
Playing like a science fiction version of Shallow Grave, with a dash of Gone Girl psychology thrown in for good measure, Time Lapse is a film that builds its tension slowly. Having the characters believe that, in order to see what will come next, they must re-enact whatever image appears is a rather novel approach. King places his characters in some rather interesting predicaments that get increasingly harder to cover up. It also forces the viewer to contemplate the underlying themes of free will and fate.
Succumbing to the cramped walls that frame each Polaroid photo, the characters unknowingly find themselves in a prison of their own making. Keeping the film within the confines of a housing complex, King brings an added sense of claustrophobia to the proceedings. Fortunately for King, his cast is more than capable of conjuring the right emotion needed for such a mind-bending tale. Matt O’Leary in particular gives a very good and understated performance as a man who has let his selfish desire for artistic glory disconnect him from what is truly important in life.
Bringing an interesting take to the time travel genre, Time Lapse is an engaging trip down the dark rabbit hole of greed. Bradley King not only displays s strong technical prowess as a director, but also cements himself as a director to keep a close eye on.