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Time Lapse

Year: 2015
Production Co: Uncooperative Pictures
Director: Bradley King
Writer: Bradley King/BP Cooper
Cast: Danielle Panabaker, Matt O'Leary, George Finn

The more time travel movies we get, the more obvious it becomes how hard it is to do something truly original in the genre apart from some rare examples (see Primer).

If you saw Project Almanac in early 2015 you'll find yourself in very familiar territory here, the structure follows a very tried and true path of heroes stumbling on time travel (you see the same thing in a lot of movies about superpowers). First they use it to live out the fantasies we all have before the act two turn where the first problem arises and the mess they've unwittingly been causing turns potentially deadly.

This time the heroes are Callie (Danielle Panabaker), her boyfriend Finn (Matt O'Leary) and their party boy housemate Jasper (George Finn). When the old man who lives across from them in their apartment building seems to have disappeared or died, Finn – as the building manager – lets himself in to see if he's all right and they make an amazing discovery.

A huge contraption in the room that faces their apartment turns out to be a camera, and when it takes and spits out a picture of a party, they can't believe it – they have a party planned for the following night.

After a few more days and with increasing disbelief they realise the camera takes a picture every night at 8pm of whatever's happening in the house 24 hours hence.

At first life becomes a dream – they hold up pictures of race results and the money starts pouring in, only having to actually dress and pose the way they're depicted in each previous evening's photo in case not doing so causes some kind of continuum rift.

But when things turn dark, it's for a couple of reasons. In one picture, Jasper and Callie are seen kissing, in another they're having sex, and even though neither can explain it, Finn grows increasingly jealous and suspects it's not some grand scheme they've worked out ahead of time like Callie and Jasper assume - he's just being cheated on.

The real danger, when it coalesces, is actually a little mundane. Jasper has been winning so much and so regularly his fearsome bookie comes around wanting to know why, finding out about the machine and extorting its power for himself, making Jasper increasingly desperate to take back the magic for himself.

Even though the structure is familiar (and the climax a little bit of a letdown), the central idea of a camera that takes pictures of the future is pretty cool. Writer/director Bradley King does all that could probably be done with the concept, and the result isn't the best time travel thriller in the world, but it's interesting and entertaining enough.

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