Reviews For The Uneasily Quarantined:

Title: Synchronic

Describe This Movie In One Back to the Future Quote:

DOC BROWN: If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour you're gonna see some serious shit.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Past is prologue, and pernicious.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 4 golfing Boon and Otters from Animal House out of 5.

Tagline: "Your ticket to another world."

Better Tagline: "We can remember it for you chainmail."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: A series of bizarre deaths linked to a new designer drug called "Synchronic" have New Orleans paramedics Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan) puzzled. But confusion turns to panic when Dennis's daughter Brianna (Ally Ioannides) goes missing, apparently after having taken the drug herself. Steve, recently diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor, hits upon a unique, if desperate plan.

"Critical" Analysis:
 Filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead have carved an interesting niche for themselves making movies about other-dimensional horror and the fragility of reality. Synchronic, their newest, is something of a departure from previous films like Spring and The Endless, in that it's more of a straightforward time travel story, albeit one that treats the concept like the nightmare it is.

Like their other works, this film also hits upon matters pertaining to family (Brianna's disappearance threatens to destroy Dennis's marriage) and loyalty, as the pair's friendship is strained by both work and Steve's terminal diagnosis (related to his pineal gland, nice From Beyond shout-out). The horror, such as it is, is far more hallucinatory than hair-raising, and the Synchronic episodes are depicted in a dreamlike fashion.

New Orleans itself looks even more hellish than usual. But maybe that's just the bad Mardi Gras memories talking.

The usual time tropes aren't in evidence, meaning no worrying about Grandpa Simpson and Ray Bradbury warning us not to alter future events. This all goes back to the drug's creator and how he describes dropping a needle on an LP, where each groove represents a different time. The thing is, there's only one groove on a record, maaaan. [takes bong rip]

The short version, as Steve says, is that "the past fucking sucks." And that's putting it mildly, but it makes Synchronic work, because it takes the not wholly unique approach of treating time travel as horror. Steve's experiences highlight how terrible such a journey would be for non-whites or women. It also says a lot about Steve's devotion to his friend that he keeps going back to periods occupied by, for example, "dick-ass conquistadors."

Jimmy LaValle's ethereal score does a capable job portending doom, and you can always count on Benson and Moorhead to keep the jocularity to a minimum. Mackie plays things admirably straight, and while the film throws out a few red herrings that maybe weren't, and refuses to flesh out some other tantalizing tangents,

Synchronic is a haunting and effective thriller that challenges genre conventions and delivers impressive results on an unimpressive budget. It also further cements Benson and Moorhead's reps as purveyors of top quality mind-blowery.

Synchronic is now playing in select theaters.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar