Imagine arriving home on a beautiful afternoon from the grocery store. You arrive at your, recently purchased, home only to realize the trunk of your car opened up at the start of your driveway, spilling your groceries. It's going to be a long day, so already it's time for a nap. You take one. Soon after, you're interrupted by the phone. Your wife is outside, doesn't hear it, so you, begrudingly, pick it up. No one answers. Star 69 reveals it's a restricted number. You can't sleep, grab your binoculars and head out back to relax in a lawn chair. Your wife heads out to replace the ruined groceries. You doze. You notice something off in the distance, in the woods. You look through the binoculars and see a woman, stripping nude. You blink, you put the binoculars down, raise them up again, she's gone. You see a piece of clothing. You head off to investigate. You wander down a path, eventually coming across a woman, naked, propped up against a large stone. Is she dead? You move in slowly, throwing sticks towards her to see if she stirs. You bend down for a closer look when suddenly a man, face completely obscured by bloodstained bandages, stabs you in the arm with a pair of scissors. You flee, eventually coming across a gated home. You break in, looking for help. Night has fallen. A phone rings, a voice on the other end tells you the bandaged man has followed you to the home. You must go out the back door and follow the lit path up the hill. The man on the phone awaits you in a silo at the top. You make your way up the hill, reach the silo, and the man lets you in. It looks like a laboratory of some sort. In the middle there is a hatch. The man tells you to get in the hatch and hide. You do. The hatch lowers, you are momentarily trapped, immersed in some sort of liquid. There is a blinding flash. The hatch raises and you emerge, vomiting. It's a few hours earlier.
So begins Timecrimes, one of the more intriguing time travel pictures I've seen in a while. To give away any more of the plot would be to completely spoil the movie. Hector (the time traveler) is the typical ordinary man thrust into an extraordinary situation. His life seems fairly mundane; grocery shopping, afternoon naps, a loving wife, a new home, a little voyeurism, etc. As soon as he tries to throw a little adventure into the mix (investigating the naked woman) things immediately go haywire. He gets trapped within a vicious cycle of fixing the past so he doesn't have to relive it, over and over again. He goes back in time and suddenly there are two Hectors. I guess this is the zig zag theory of time. Hector 1 must make sure that Hector 2 follows procedure exactly; searching for the naked girl, ending up in the silo at the exact same time, and everything else that happened in between. If he doesn't, things will never go back to the way they were. I've always wondered what happens to the people in the present when someone goes back in time? Is Hector 1 really Hector 1? How many times has this already happened? Why did any of this happen in the first place? Who is the man with the fucking bandages on his face? (well, that one was actually sorta easy to figure out).
I really enjoyed this one. Questions led to more questions...and we even got a couple answers. Karra Elejalde is terrific as Hector. A quiet, nebbish man whose increasing desperation leads him to commit acts that would, ordinarily, be completely out of character. Sometimes, the best time travel yarns are the smaller ones (Primer, for example). There are no hokey explanations of the science behind the machine. There are no grand machinations, no traveling to the distant future or the distant past. I guess the idea of trying to fix the future by fixing the past was previously used in Sound of Thunder, but here it doesn't ring quite so hollow. Also, there were no flying apes or pterodactyls or whatever the fuck those things were. I don't know man, this is one I can't really write too much about. The story keeps wrapping around itself and revealing a little more each time. Sometimes, I guess it would be better off to leave things alone but I don't know about you, if I see a naked woman in the woods I am probably going off to investigate as well.
One thing I found interesting was the look of the guy wearing the bloodied bandages on his face. He reminded me of the David Cronenberg character in Clive Barker's Nightbreed. Anyone else notice this? There's a scene when Hector is hiding from him. He sees the bandaged man with his back to him. Hector looks through the binoculars and suddenly, the bandaged man turns around with his hands cupped around his eyes, as if he's got a pair of binoculars as well, as if to say "I see you seeing me". I don't know, probably just a coincidence, but I think that Cronenberg (with a sack on his head instead of bandages) did the same thing in Nightbreed. No time travel in that one though so maybe I'm mistaken.
I appreciated everything about the picture. The score seemed inspired by the music from "Lost" (with lots of low hums and then sharp strings or whatever they do when something serious happens). The looks of the picture is simple and there were no time ripples or anything like that. Minimal "look at me" type of effects in this thing. I don't really have any complaints here. I've only seen it once, so maybe it's possible to poke some holes in this thing on subsequent viewings. The story was simple enough, I followed along. I kept wondering how any of this could possibly have happened the first time. I'm glad I didn't find out. This is, unquestionably, the best time travel movie of 2007.