Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Starring Karra Elejalde, Candela Fernandez, Barbara Goenaga, Nacho Vigalondo
Directed by Nacho Vigalondo
Distributed by Magnolia Home Entertainment
Time travel movies are always a tricky thing to mess around with. From my viewpoint, you have to start out pretty damn smart and do a lot of fact-checking to make sure you even come close to making sense, and that’s before you even get to worry about whether or not you’re telling an entertaining story.
Nacho Vialondo has done a superb job on both counts with Timecrimes, thankfully, thought I should warn you ahead of time that despite what some may have said in other reviews or press materials, it’s not really a horror movie. Of course the definition of “horror” is so broad these days, who’s to say? It certainly is a scarier concept than half the shit you find in multiplexes these days.
The story is simple; Hector (Elejalde) is a middle-aged man who, along with his loving wife, has just moved into a sprawling, isolated home. One afternoon while looking out on his new world with a pair of binoculars, he spies first a strange radio tower, then a beautiful girl, removing her shirt in the woods for seemingly no reason.
Fascinated, Hector has to go investigate, but as he approaches the girl a mysterious assailant stabs him in the arm. He runs off into the woods, managing to catch a glimpse of the person who did the stabbing; someone wearing a large trench coat whose face is covered in bandages. Wandering through the forest, he stumbles upon a large building, which looks to be some sort of laboratory, and inside makes contact with the sole person there; a scientist, he later finds out, who guides him away from harm and into his building.
The only way he can think to protect him from the bandaged madman is to put him inside a strange device in the middle of the floor that’s half-filled with liquid, then close it. The device closes, reopens, and now Hector finds himself a few hours in the past, unable to make contact with his wife or himself (that bandage on his arm might be useful for hiding his identity…), but slowly piecing together everything else that has or will happen to him in both the past and future. Someone has to die, you see, but Hector is determined he will make sure it’s not the one he believes it to be.
I really can’t say too much else about the plot of Timecrimes without either confusing you, confusing me, or giving anything away, but suffice it to say Vialondo has crafted a very smart whodunit centered around the concept of traveling back in time to assure that certain things happen in certain ways so you can be sure you yourself are in the right place to see them, otherwise you won’t be where you are now and … whoa, see what I mean? Confusing.
But at the same time not. Vialondo moves things along at a gradual but steady pace, never letting the viewer get too far ahead of what’s going on. No easy task when you have a character that continually crosses their own timeline. It’s Hitchcockian on many levels, too; only I doubt Hitchcock ever had too much interest in time travel for the purpose of deepening his mysteries. It does have that everyday Joe caught in a strange series of events element that always made Hitch’s movie so memorable.
Performances are great, which is good because with such a small cast you’d really suffer from one bad acting job. Elejalde, especially, as the wide-eyed time traveler who just wants to go back to his normal life, will be a very tough act to follow when the remake rears its ugly head, which sadly it already has. I only hope Vialondo is as lucky with his American choice as he was with his Spanish one!
The DVD is pretty stacked for such an odd movie. Things kick off with a making-of, several cast and crew interviews, one of Nacho’s short films – 7:35 De La Manana, The Creation of Timecrimes five feaurette internet game, a featurette on the film’s make-up F/X, a photo gallery and the teaser trailer sitting up upon the heap like a perfect little cherry. Really good stuff!
Thankfully Magnolia Pictures secured the rights to release Timecrimes in its native language, so we’re all be able to see the original before the remake. Timecrimes is not for everyone, it’s leisurely yet tense pacing sees to that, but for those looking to utilize their gray matter some when digesting a horror film, you’ll find a lot to dig about it.
3 1/2 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
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