Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead return with another suitably weird, sufficiently fun mind-bender which sees two New Orleans paramedics dealing with a spate of deaths connected to a new time-altering drug
Building on their filmography of mind-bending genre films focusing on damaged people, directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead take a step into more mainstream fare with Synchronic. Compared to their previous efforts, the film is a less confident mixture of inventive visuals and personal drama, but Benson and Moorhead still manage to wrangle the twisty time-travel mechanics into an engaging watch.
The film sees two New Orleans paramedics, Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan), encounter violent deaths across the city, all seemingly connected to a new synthetic drug that alters your perception of time and space. The gradual introduction to the fantastical story elements is captured in flowing, voyeuristic camera movements that stare at eerie crime scenes, and the flashes of visual effects instil a great feeling of unease.
What the film is lacking, however, is the same steadily building dread of its directors' other films, The Endless (2017) or Spring (2014). More than once Synchronic stumbles as it moves forward. The time-hopping sequences toe the line between immersive and silly, and the time-travel rules feel somewhat arbitrary and made up on the spot.
Still, Synchronic benefits from playing its out-there story completely straight. This is thanks to a pair of strong performances from Mackie and Dornan, and although the latter feels underused, they both get opportunities to show real vulnerability. Despite its messiness, Synchronic is suitably weird, sufficiently fun, and it’s refreshing to see filmmakers grounding high-concept thrills so faithfully in their characters.
Released 29 Jan by Signature; certificate 15