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DVD Review: Cryptic

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What an interesting little movie Cryptic is. Unafraid to tackle Einstein and the time-space continuum, it tells the story of Jessie (Jadin Gould), a little girl who received a cell phone from her mom for her birthday. Flash forward nine years, and that little girl is a sad teenager.

The day mom presented the cell phone, she was injured in a bizarre swimming pool “accident,” which left her in a vegetative state. While digging around in a drawer, Jessie’s best friend, Damon (Johnny Pacar), finds the cell phone which had never been used but maintains a signal (although it does require charging). Jessie (Julie Carlson) dials her old home number, and the phone is answered by…Jessie, the little girl.

Those who are familiar with the theories of time-space continuum must suspend disbelief; those who are not should allow themselves to be somewhat confused. While teen Jessie doesn’t actually go back in time, her voice does. Thus the question, can the present affect the past and change the future?

About a third of the way through the film, I had the puzzle solved and knew the ending. Or so I thought. Plot twists and the paranormal combine to produce a tricky story, engaging the viewer in its progress. While I had arrived at a thriller-type resolution, I wasn’t even close (do you think anyone would be interested in buying my version for another film?).

Cryptic is an intriguing puzzle shot on a low budget. Despite the budget, it is well made, although there are indications of economizing in some shots. It has been compared to The Twilight Zone, and one can easily imagine a Rod Serling introduction to this strange tale. Cryptic makes a good companion to the “Little Girl Lost” episode, although the physics theories presented differ.

Julie Carlson is appealing as the angst-ridden teenager who may know more about the past than she realizes. Yes, she is sullen, but not as disrespectful as some of us would be to her father (Toby Huss), and a lot more grounded than would be expected.

Cryptic has won a number of awards: Athens International SciFi, Best Film, 2010; Sacramento Horror Festival, Best Film, Best Acting, Best Directing, 2009; Sydney Fantastic Planet Film Fest, Best Performance. It is well paced and inspires the viewer’s participation in unraveling the enigma; however the ending bobbles just a bit, though satisfies nonetheless. Added DVD features include the original trailer and coming attractions.

Bottom Line: Would I buy/rent/stream Cryptic? Stream, I think, because I hadn’t expected much of the film (but was happily surprised). This is another movie to enjoy with popcorn, but this time you’ll not be throwing it at the screen.

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