Time travel is far from new in film — The Time Machine, Back to the Future, Looper, Primer, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Donnie Darko, About Time, Hot Tub Time Machine — it manages to span every genre and, if done well, stays true to its own. Once in a while, something novel may come along. Then there are the haphazard entries that make you yearn for something better. I’m sure no one was clamoring for a time travel film crossed with Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave, but alas, Bradley King has turned his feature film debut into exactly that. Only problem is, King and co-writer BP Cooper don’t have the cast, or characters, to invest any kind of payoff, making Time Lapse just another blip on the direct-to-video market. Even the MTV-funded Almanac Project was far more interesting.
Finn (Matt O’Leary) is an apartment complex manager, suffering from a creative block as a painter. He lives with his best friend Jasper (George Finn) and girlfriend Callie (Danielle Panabaker) in an awkward pseudo-love-triangle of sorts. After “Mr. B” seems to be missing — he’s behind on rent, has a stack of newspapers at his front door, and a collection of parking tickets on his car — the trio decide to investigate, only to find out that Mr. B has built a homemade camera that can take pictures 24 hours into the future, always at 8:00 p.m. Soon enough, they find Mr. B’s charred remains in a storage room in the basement, Jasper starts using the camera to quench his gambling habit, and they quickly learn that they must not mess with time and have to make sure they recreate the daily photos in fear of putting a stop to their timeline.
Time Lapse is presented on a 25GB disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Considering the film’s low budget roots, this is one exceptional transfer. Colors are natural and pop while never bleeding. Blacks are inky with no crush to swallow up shadow details. Alisasing never appears and there may have been some blink and you’ll miss them instances of banding on a few objects such as painted doors and walls. Fine detail is usually razor sharp, with only a handful of shots appearing purposefully soft. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track offers up plenty of bass, and the surrounds are saved to give the score some breadth, but overall, this is a very front-heavy mix. Bass makes for some effective creepiness and subtitles are available in English for the deaf and hard of hearing.
An overwhelming assortment of special features winds up being overkill, if only because of redundancy. Two commentaries kick things off featuring King and Cooper. The first is more of a behind-the-scenes look at the production and story process, while the second is called a “Filmmaking 101 Commentary” sporting more of a technical “nuts and bolts” commentary living up to its title. A “Behind-the-Scenes” (22:52) offers up a visual look at the production, with two deleted scenes showing at least one of them (“Callie in the Kitchen” 1:38) was wisely excised. The “Mr. B. Flashback” (2:22) gives us a chance to see John Rhys-Davies on screen which is always welcome, no matter how small the role. The film’s theatrical trailer (2:01) is also included.
King chose a very odd story line considering he and Cooper were strongly influenced by the “Time Lapse” episode of The Twilight Zone. The film gets far too violent considering we never care for any of the characters, and the big surprise ending is intended to encourage viewers to rewatch the film — something I doubt anyone will do. The only one worth rooting for most of the runtime is Panabaker, but once you realize even she may have ulterior motives, there’s only so far we’re willing to follow her. O’Leary is a complete bore making you wonder why Callie would ever want to be with him in the first place and Finn is never likeable, but does get to let loose a little as his character starts to unwind. While the technical aspects of the disc will at least make watching the film easy on the eyes, the film itself makes it hard. Time Lapse only makes you wish you could see your own future to warn yourself you’re better off skipping it.