Wednesday, March 31, 2010

REVIEW: Timecrimes

Timecrimes (Los Cronocrimenes)
Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Year 2007

What a wonderful and twisted film Timecrimes is. It takes a simple premise and turns it into an out of control ride where the main character has to return his life back to somewhat normalacy after changing his world in the most drastic of ways. This 2007 Spanish film directed by Nacho Vigalondo is the perfect example of how a great time travel film doesn't necessarily have to be a big budget blockbuster with monumental effects. You just need a good story and superb acting to make an interesting and intriguing film that throws the audience for a loop while maintaining a sense of logic that's inherintly linked to the story.

The story plays out with a man named Hector, performed by a wonderful spanish actor, Karra Elejalde, as he falls into a situation that is way over his head.

Hector, what wonderful adventures will you get into today, you little scamp.

Hector's curiosity will get the better of him in this corkscrew of a tale. He relaxes on a lawn chair in the backyard of his country home, peering through his binoculars when he sees something moving in the woods across the way. He's intrigued and follows the movement only to see a woman undressing. Now he is really intrigued and as his wife leaves to get the groceries, he goes off to investigate.

That's right. Take it off. Take it all off you dirty bird.

He adventures into the woods and to his astonishment he finds the girl. She is totally naked and knocked out with her body resting up against a rock. He proceeds to throw some sticks at her to see if she is alive but she doesn't move. He finds enough courage to approach her seemingly lifeless body, when he is suddenly attacked by an unseen assailant. He is stabbed by a pair of scissors and is bleeding like crazy. He flees the scene and ends up finding a strange building which he breaks into.

It is empty inside, but he finds a walkie talkie and there is another person on the end. The man tells him to hurry to the top of the hill where he is at and he'll be safe. As night creeps into the world, Hector rushes up the path that climbs the hill and enters another strange building where the man with the other walkie talkie greets him. The man tells him that he saw a car coming up the drive and sure enough headlights appear as they begin getting closer and closer. The car stops and a car door can be heard shutting outside, when suddenly a strange head-wrapped man pops his face up into the window and scares the bejesus out of Hector.

Peek-a-boo you fucks you.

The man with the walkie talkie tells him to get inside this massive contraption in the middle of the room and he'll be safe there. Hector jumps in and motions for the man to follow but before Hector knows it, the giant lid begins to close and traps him inside.

Go on, get inside. There's nothing strange about this giant container.

Hector stays inside only for an instant when the lid begins to open again and there's a blinding light. His eyes adjust and he realizes that it's day light out. Confused as all hell, Hector stumbles out of the container and looks around the room. The man with the walkie talkie informs him that he has just traveled back in time an hour and this is where our film really gets going.

What the hell is going on here?

The man with the walkie talkie is actually a scientist named El Joven played by the films actual director Nacho Vigalondo. Joven has found a way to travel through time and he struggles to convince Hector that he is indeed one hour back in time. Where's Doc Brown when you need him. Joven finally convinces him by telling Hector to take his binoculars out and view his house from where they're standing. Hector is shocked to see his wife and himself working in the backyard like they were merely moments before. 

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by being back in time, he seems to feel a hint of jealousy, like this man with his wife is some kind of impostor even though it is in fact him. Driven by his jealousy he decides to put an end to this sick affair and here in lies the cause of all his hardships there after. 

Hector comes to terms that he is in fact back in time and
without the sweet musical stylings of Huey Lewis and the News.

This film handles its themes so well and does it with a whimsical edge. I really enjoy how all the things that happen to his character before the time jump seem to relate to his actions that he takes after traveling an hour back in time. The strange phone calls that he receives earlier in the film, becomes answered when he gets curious about there being another him and he instinctively calls his house to see if its true. The naked girls predicament is explained in detail and we come to find out that he had a major hand in her being at that exact moment and at that exact time. It really is mind boggling and just plain fun to see him remember how things were and act them out exactly in order to not screw up time anymore then he already has.

Foreshadowing of the monster he will become.

Not only does this film have a zig zagging and criss-crossing path, but it also has some lively visuals. There are some beautiful shots with the slasher like killer persona that has his head wrapped in bloody gauss. The melding of so many genre's mixed with a time traveling premise is something I truly have never seen before and it seems to fit perfectly. The visual eye that director Nacho Vigalondo has, really lifts this movie out of its low budget shackles and births it into a new class of higher budgeted films.

This is a great image, but seriously, do not play with scissors.

As the film goes on, Nacho always seems to up the ante. Just when you think that Hector has it all figured out and situated, another problem arises and he has to figure out a way to make things right. Even though it looks exhausting for the character you can't help but feel entertained and overjoyed at how intricate the plot intertwines with itself and how everything in the film is effected by this character's actions whether from the future, past, or present.

It's a great experience when we get to see a memorable scene from another angle and get a better perspective on what really happened in that particular event. This works so well in this film and it helps the viewer to get swept up in the mystery of what else the character had a hand in doing.

Oh snap! It's a peeping-tom stand off.

The genre mashing is one of the top accomplishments this film executes so well. The horror aspect is done well, with the masked killer stalking the main character and then pulling the complete 180 by transforming Hector into the killer. This particular point is something that is unique for this brand of time skewing films. This concept also has traces of an Italian Giallo, with an unknown knife wielding (or scissors in this case) killer.

There's also portions of this film that are quite funny. One of these scenes is where Hector the killer is trying to remember where he was when he saw the killer mocking him with his hands up pretending to have invisible binoculars. He keeps striking the pose over and over again in different directions, making him look like some kind of crazy person. These moments occur throughout the film as he tries to get his life back to normal, only to seemingly dig himself into a bigger hole.

It's also really fun to pretend you're a dirty peeping-tom.

This film really is a fun ride and one that you appreciate with multiple viewings. Knowing in advance that what is happening to the character is caused by the same character, but his future self, is the most enjoyable experience I've ever had with a time traveling movie. He really actually makes his life harder on himself and that's an interesting concept. Even though he is trying to right the wrongs that he's caused, he is the very reason those wrongs exist in the first place. 

For example, he decides that crashing the scientist's van into his other self as his past self drives his car down the street on his way to tracking down his impostor self that is hanging out with his wife in their yard. He knows he has to crash into himself because he was in the car when he did it before, but from the other angle. He is the source of his own problems and it should be a confusing mess that doesn't make a lick of sense, but the way the story is told and how it unfolds to the viewer, helps us guide along on a logical path. Instead of us trying to figure out the time frame and by doing this be taken out of the story, the director has gently taken our hand and softly pushes us along as Hector comes to terms with what he must do and what has already been done to him.

What a crappy day and the worst part of it is that he did it to himself.

If you can believe it, Hector somehow is able to figure out a way to bring the story together and find some sort of peace after all that has been done to him by himself. His self inflicted journey comes to an end in a strangely peaceful manner and brings a closing to the story and a satisfying end to his miraculous time traveling journey. I won't give you the details, because it is something you have to experience for yourself much like the entire movie. I've left a great deal out of the story and there is so much in here that it truly deserves a second or even third viewing to take it all in. It really is an amazing little film with an epic concept packaged in an ingrained and engaging story.

Taking a much needed rest after a long and turbulent journey.

So do I recommend this film? You bet your damn ass I do! This is one unique movie that doesn't let its budgetary restraints hold it back. It reaches for the stars in its overall idea and nails all the right tones. The combination of horror, comedy, and science fiction is a delicate blend that makes the piece shine over other time traveling flicks. This is the first film that I've seen by Nacho Vigalondo and he's still early in his career, but I can't wait to see what extraordinary film he comes up with next. He is a director that is on my must see list and this film is one that should not be overlooked and passed by. You'd be doing yourself a disservice by not checking out this essential little time travel movie that's big on ideas and small on disappointments.

5 out of 5 stars        A modern day science fiction classic with a few twists


  1. Nice review. This is an excellent film that plays with the element of time really well. Did you see Christopher Smith's Triangle? Same idea, but not nearly as exciting for some reason.

  2. Yeah I just love this movie and I've recently seen Triangle. In fact I'm going to be reviewing that one either later on today or tomorrow.

    I thought Timecrimes was much better also, but I still enjoyed Triangle a lot even though they have similar plot devices. Thanks for checking out the review and the input. Let me know what you think of my Triangle review when I post it.

  3. great review dude, dont think theres much point watching it now as I feel well spoilerised now though.