Review: Synchronic is a time-bending slow burn of a sci-fi thriller

560 points

Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan play Paramedics in New Orleans who face a series of strange and horrific incidents in the science fiction movie. synchronous.

Did you miss the opportunities synchronousIt is the latest science fiction film written and directed by independent filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead, when it released into limited theaters last month. Not only have many theaters closed due to the pandemic, the filmmakers themselves have taken the extraordinary step Warning potential viewers (Via Instagram) for the health risks associated with an indoor movie theater. (“We will not personally go to an indoor theater, so we cannot encourage you to do so.” They wrote.)

She was admirably responsible for them, but severely limited the audience, especially since the film’s distributor inexplicably chose not to release it all at once on VOD – a practice common now in these pandemic times. This is a shame, because it is synchronous It is a smart, innovative and thought-provoking movie that features outstanding performances from co-stars Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan.

(Mostly light spoilers below, with some significant twists down the gallery. We’ll give you an alert when we get there.)

Benson and Moorehead are famous in the film festival circuit, where they co-directed the 2017 science fiction film. Endless, As well as 2014 spring (Which was a hit at the Toronto International Film Festival that year) and 2012 Precision (Which occurs in the same fictional universe as Endless). One day, they came up with an idea while having coffee synchronous. The directors said, “It was so new, totally crazy, and had a weird kind of real-world feel” where the past would be the main antagonist – an entirely different kind of movie monster. “We can also express how we always tend to always look forward or backward for happiness, rather than looking here in the moment.”

According to the official introduction:

When New Orleans paramedics and their longtime close friends Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan) are called in for a series of strange and horrific incidents, they take it back to the mysterious new party drug on the scene. But after Dennis’s eldest daughter suddenly disappears, Steve stumbles upon a terrifying truth about the supposed drug that will challenge everything he knows about reality – and the flow of time itself.

The film begins with the duo responding to a plea about a married couple in a hotel. The couple’s drug hallucinations caused the male partner somehow to plunge several floors down the elevator shaft, while the woman was in shock and unresponsive, staring in horror at something no one else could see. She also has a mysterious snake bite. Steve and Dennis also respond to a call regarding a burnt corpse in a park and a drug user who was stabbed with a vintage sword.

The common factor in all of these strange calls is a new designer drug called “Synchronicity”. We know it’s similar to DMT (The hallucinogen in Ayahuasca), With a molecular formula different enough to be technically legal. But this particular batch was taken to the market amid rumors of draconian measures by the FDA and some severe side effects. Steve manages to buy the remainder at the local smoking store Big Chief to get the drug out of the local market, but not before Dennis’s 18-year-old daughter (Ally Ioannides) vanished after attending a fraternal party that killed a young man.

Amid all this, we’re learning about Steve’s recent MRI results, and the news isn’t good. He suffers from an inoperable brain tumor in or near the pineal gland, a small pea-shaped area near the center of the brain that secretes the hormone melatonin associated with the sleep / wake cycles, among other functions. (Fun fact: The 17th-century philosopher René Descartes believed that the pituitary gland It was the seat of the soul.) This turns out to be important, given a simultaneous tampering with the pineal gland – hence its extraordinary implications in terms of how users experience time.

(Warning: some important spoilers below.)

Both Benson and Moorhead describe themselves as “armchair enthusiasts of astrophysics, philosophy, and futurism,” among other interests, and they especially liked the idea of ​​a designer drug that would get people to experience the past, present and future simultaneously (or all mixed up), not in progress. My line is neat. When Steve meets the chemist who created Sync, the chemist draws an analogy for the vinyl cylinder: You drop the needle on whatever path you wish to run, but all of those other paths are always there. “These paths are like time,” the chemist explains. “Synchronization is the needle.” Steve is also an armchair physicist, citing a letter from Albert Einstein to a friend whose wife has passed away: “The distinction between past, present, and future is nothing but an irreverent and stubborn illusion.” The synchronous temporarily shatters this temporal illusion.

But there is a twist: one’s mere perception of the flow of time is not affected. The drug actually makes you experience different time periods. And if it happened to the intervention of a Spanish invader attacking you because you had just appeared out of nowhere in a swamp, you would suffer a very real death if he succeeded in twisting you with his sword. Teens whose pineal glands haven’t yet calcified can actually travel to another period of time and stick there, which Steve realizes is what happened to Brianna.

Due to his cancer, Steve suffers from the underrated pineal gland of a teen rather than an adult. So he believes he can save Brianna with his limited supplies from the remaining Synchron. One of the favorite elements of the film is the way Steve conducts a series of videotaped experiments, gradually arriving at the “rules” in play. For example, it turns out that where you stand to determine the period of time in which it ends (for some reason, it is always the past, never the future), and you have to come back within a short period of time.

But Steve got it wrong when he decided to take his trusted dog, Hawking, on time with him for one test run. Suffice it to say that dogs will be puppies, Hawking does not date back to the present. Instead, Steve gets one final glimpse of Hawking as he murmurs sadly at his beloved master before the vision fades. Steve only has enough simultaneous synchronization to either save Hawking or Brianna. He made the right call (Brianna), but that doesn’t make Hawking’s fate any less sad.

It’s the most disturbing scene in the movie; I’m still kind of pissed off at Steve because he took risks Hawking rather than running that experiment with an animal that was Not A loyal, beloved canine companion. However, there is no denying its power. This moment is permanently engraved in my mind, and crucial in terms of raising emotional stakes. So objectively, I have to pay tribute to Benson and Moorhead for not blinking this conclusion. I can always console myself by imagining Hawking being befriended by a young boy, and they keep sharing all kinds of fun adventures. Hawking can still live his best, albeit in a distant past.

The entire structure of this movie is impressively narrow, with Benson and Moorhead constantly adding extra restrictions to heighten tension and build real suspense. synchronous It is a slow, burning burn that pays off with a surprisingly moving and bitter result. But I still insisted Hawking was so good and deserving better.

synchronous VOD has to come in the next few months.

Listing image by Well Go USA

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