“Time Lapse” is time travel thriller that flatlines, mainly because of the consistently flat performances.
Love, betrayal, confidence games and murder all unfold in this interesting wrinkle on a timeworn plot. But the cast never gets the pulse racing, and the direction never adds the urgency this sort of picture needs to come off.
Finn (Matt O’Leary of “Live Free or Die Hard”) is a painter who serves as building superintendent for a small bungalow-style apartment complex. He lives with his girlfriend Callie (Danielle Panabaker of TV’s “The Flash”) and their pal, Jasper (George Finn).
Their boring lives of work, frustrated ambition and pill-popping are interrupted when they realize that one of their tenants hasn’t been seen in several days.
They check in on Mr. Bezzerides (John Rhys-Davies, basically edited out of the picture) and stumble across first his collection of Polaroids, and then this huge machine that takes them.
It’s a camera pointed at their apartment window. The wall covered with photos tells the intimate details of their lives. What’s more, it turns out it develops these pictures before the events in them actually happen.
Time travel by photo? Naturally, the hustler Jasper figures out a way to use that to get rich. Dog racing results. Post them in the window, the camera will capture the winners the day before. Something like that.
“The risk is so minimal, almost non-existent,” Jasper insists. We know he’s wrong, even if we can’t quite figure out how they travel ahead to get the results and post them for the camera to photograph.
Soon complications set in, chief among them the scary bookie (Jason Spisak) who gets suspicious. The trio build their whole existence around the camera. Finn gets over his creative block (his paintings in the photos give him the ideas he never seems to have), Callie can zero in on her dream and Jasper can get rich.
“We’ve gotta do what’s in the photo,” they decide, otherwise they’re messing with time and the natural course of events. Which of course, they’re already messing with.
Better time travel movies are a dime a dozen, but this intimate indie pic had potential. “Prime”,”Safety Not Guaranteed” and “Project Almanac” had more going for them in terms of plot, but the performances could still have made this work.
But not one threat, not one pointed gun, not one panic-stricken moment when they’re conceiving the cover-up (they find the old scientist/neighbor’s body) is believable.
So time doesn’t travel, it stands still in “Time Lapse.”
MPAA Rating: unrated, with violence, adult situations, drug abuse
Cast: Danielle Panabaker, Matt O’Leary, George Finn.
Credits: Directed by Bradley King, script by Bradley King and B.P. Cooper. An XLrator Media release.
Running time: 1:42