Rupert Jones' slippery slow-burn psychological thriller Kaleidoscope is powered by a fusion of two elements — a female corpse and a disturbed mother-son relationship — that immediately evokes Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. Unlike that movie, however, Kaleidoscope unfolds in a frustrating achronological fashion, with the writer-director, Rupert Jones, toggling among three key points: a first date between Carl (Toby Jones, Rupert's brother), an isolated ex-con and Abby (Sinead Matthews), a woman Carl met through an online-dating platform; the morning after the rendezvous, when Carl wakes up to find Abby dead in the upstairs bathroom, blood splashed on the walls; and the ensuing days and nights of fraught mother-son cohabitation, the consequence of the former's sudden trip to London. The discomfort of Carl's relationship with his mom Aileen (Anne Reid) is emphasized even before she materializes onscreen, when Jones zooms in on the answering machine emitting the announcement of her impending arrival with sufficiently grand menace.
Jones' constant temporal shuffling calls into question the reality of the events depicted: One flash moment, for example, shows Carl racing to the bathroom and discovering Abby heaving on the floor, suggesting she might be alive after all; he frantically embraces her and apologizes. Minutes later, however, Jones switches back to Psycho territory, sticking us alongside Carl as he goes about the dirty business of ditching a body. But all the narrative toying-around has the effect of making these characters seem less like thinking, feeling people than cogs in a complicated puzzle-piece screenplay. Furthermore, that this movie about a man's tormented mind uses as its intrigue-generating launching-off point the dismemberment of a woman's body is a cringeworthy start that Kaleidoscope never shakes.