CAPSULE: TIME LAPSE offers a nifty little time paradox story. Three people in their early twenties manage an apartment building. They discover that one of the residents has died, leaving a mysterious camera that foretells the future by every day taking pictures 24 hours into the future. This is a machine that should be able to give them the world if they use it correctly. But soon they find all their plans are going askew. The science fiction tale is co-written and directed by Bradley King. Rating: high +2 (-4 to +4) or 8/10
In 1960, the public was impressed by Polaroid instant cameras that developed pictures in 60 seconds rather than through a slow chemical process. Perhaps inspired by Polaroid the television show "The Twilight Zone" ran an episode entitled "A Most Unusual Camera." There the concept was that there was a camera that was so fast it could produce a photo minutes before the picture was taken. So the camera told the future. As was too frequently the case with "Twilight Zone" episodes the producers had neither the time nor the money to do a really good treatment of the idea. I am not aware of any science fiction or fantasy film that used the idea until now, 2015, other than a 2009 Hindi film, AA DEKHAN ZARA. A new film co- written and directed by first-timer Bradley King returns to a story of a camera that produces a picture of a scene that will occur 24 hours after the picture is snapped.
Finn (played by Matt O'Leary), Jasper (George Finn), and Callie (Danielle Panabaker) manage an apartment where a dead resident has left behind a magical camera that takes pictures of what it will be seeing 24 hours into the future. But the recipients of the picture must make sure that they stage the tableau that the camera had seen a day earlier. For reasons not entirely clear, the rule is that if the scene the camera saw is not reproduced everyone in that picture will die when the timeline is corrected. Destroy your future and you die. And just because they see a picture does not necessarily mean that they know how to interpret it. The obvious first use (the same as in "The Twilight Zone") is to send race results back in time. But soon the fact that the three always win on their bets brings them unwanted and dangerous attention. And before long the camera is controlling them. What is a good time travel story without unexpected complexity? But this film has fairly believable people caught up in the twists of the time travel plot.
As almost a pleasant relief, this is not a spectacle film. There are no big explosions. There are only a few gunshots. The viewer feels that if they were involved in a time paradox, this is a very credible and down to earth set of situations. Then the plot twists around on itself unexpectedly. As the tangle of ideas and motivations gets complex the viewer may well wish to back up the film and repeat it. Still, TIME LAPSE is easier to parse than other good low-budget time paradox films like TIME CRIMES or PRIMER.
Director King manages to keep the budget down by staging the whole story in one apartment complex. Still he keeps the film from seeming claustrophobic. What was a rather pedestrian "Twilight Zone" episode may have inspired this nice little fantasy thriller. That makes it well above average for time travel films. I rate it a high +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 8/10.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2669336/combined
What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/time_lapse_2015/
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2015 Mark R. Leeper