Time Travel Movie Time Lapse Explained
Time Lapse is possibly one of the best time travel movies you have never seen. So many great twists and turns. So many fantastic details and mechanics. Time Lapse is hallowed ground in my opinion. Definitely a must see movie for pretty much everyone. IMDB
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I get asked daily about movies that I would recommend – other mindjobs – other movies worth thinking about. And to just shut you guys up a bit (I’m totally kidding, calm down Karen.) I figured I would start up a retro-recommendation (alliteration for the win) weekly post to bring back older, totally brilliant films, you might have missed when they originally came out. There are just so many movies that I’ve recommended here on this site there is literally no way that you could possibly keep up with them all. But with these flashʞƆ∀q weekly posts it should help you find more cool quarantine worth-while watches (triple alliteration anyone? Anyone?) Well, today is definitely a brilliant flick that is worth your time: Time Travel Movie Time Lapse Explained.

Time Lapse is literally a perfect movie. It’s perfectly thought out. It’s perfectly executed. It’s perfectly acted. Perfectly concluded with a right hook of a mind job ending. Bp Cooper & Bradley King are literally heroes of mine. Like, polished trophy type heroes. This website was built entirely as an homage to the likes of Messrs. Cooper and King. And after writing this piece, to have them stumble upon it and take me up on an interview offer was the stuff of dreams for me. I tried to explain it to my wife and kids… “Ok. That’s great Taylor. Could you please, um, sit down, you are starting to startle the dogs.” So why don’t we get to it shall we: Time Travel Movie Time Lapse Explained!!

Wait wait, this is my favorite bit. If you are wondering if this Time Lapse primer walk through is worth your time, Bradley Cooper (who co-wrote the script with Bradley King) read through this post and said this on Twitter about it:

wow @tayoflore ! One of our wishes was that someone loved it enough to break it down like you just did! Awesome! http://t.co/vApvhI77TQ

— bp cooper (@bpcooper) June 19, 2015

Anyway, first things first, this post is solely for those people who have already seen the movie. If you have not yet seen it, you are solely allowed to watch the trailer, read the overview section and then promptly leave.  No sneaking peeks further down the page.  No jumping ahead.  Because this post is NOT a general overview of the movie Time Lapse.  But a super super deep dive into the inner workings of the film.

So for all those of you who should not be here, you have been warned, just the general overview and the trailer.  So, let’s discuss the general overview so that we can get rid of everyone and finally get that alone time we (I) were (was) hoping for.  First the trailer:

Time Lapse Movie Trailer & Overview

The three characters in the movie become fascinated, intrigued, and then embroiled in the chaos that it brings. As the trio try to decide what they are going to do with this power, the power sort of implodes in on itself. It is a fantastic, slow boil of a movie with a marvelous surprise twist at the end that will make you reconsider everything you’ve seen up to that point. I cannot recommend the movie enough. If not for its simple, yet sophisticated script, then for its very tightly wound plot and interesting characters. It’s definitely going to be a must see for anyone that considers themselves a fan of time travel at all.


Time Lapse Movie Overview

A painter named Finn (Matt O’Leary) is in a bit of a creative slump.  He is sharing his Los Angeles apartment with his two roommates.  Callie (Danielle Panabaker) and Jasper (George Finn) are dating and apparently Jasper may have missed his opportunity to propose. Finn is currently supporting himself as the apartment complex’s manager and one day he goes to check up on a tenant and discovers a mysterious, fridge-sized camera pointed at his own living room window.  And it is this camera that is the crux of our Time Lapse emphasis of this movie.

So the tenant (who is now deceased as a result of his experiments apparently) has figured out a way to shoot Polaroids that show what will happen 24 hours in the future. Even though the inventor is dead the device has programmed to automatically take one picture every single night. And it is in this complicated soup of details that our play unfolds upon our three characters. Add chaos.  Insert questions about the determinability of time. Toss in a question or two about free will.  And finally, insert a head job of an ending that jukes 100% your perspective on everything that you were previously assuming and you get an idea of what Time Lapse is really all about.

Spoiler-filled Drama Begins Now

Above I walked you through the spoiler free overview of the movie.  But I figure it is important to actually take you through the detailed events of the movie so that the discussions further on in my walk through begin to make more sense.  I’ll keep the detailed walk through at a high level – but you need to grasp the actual events so that when we look at the final reveal it will actually make more sense come the end of the day, or the end of the post, as the case may be.

  1. Callie checks on Mr. B and discovers the machine
  2. Machine takes a photo at 8 pm everyday
  3. Jasper pushes to use the machine to gamble
  4. 1st Photo shows they bet on the track
  5. Photo also shows Finn has painted a new painting
  6. Trio realizes they must make all events in photos occur
  7. Mr. B’s disappearance is covered up w/ Big Joe security guard
  8. A week in they get a photo of Callie kissing Jasper
  9. Jasper’s bookie Ivan learns of the machine
  10. Ivan begins forcing them to pose for photos for him to bet on
  11. Jasper sees skull and crossbones painting which he sees as a warning
  12. Big Joe gets a job as a police officer, and drops off his keys
  13. Ivan threatens trio, but Jasper convinces Ivan that the photo is of his death
  14. Jasper stabs Marcus, and then clubs Ivan to death when he returns with photo
  15. Bodies are all hidden in Mr.B’s storage unit
  16. Dr. Heidecker (Mr. B’s colleague) arrives & makes the trio explain
  17. Mr. B had mailed Heidecker a photo for the next night showing blood on the window & Mr. B’s hat
  18. Finn finds a photo of Callie and Jasper having sex he assumes is for the next night
  19. Finn tries to negotiate and prevent the events from occurring
  20. Jasper knocks Finn out and locks him in Mr. B’s storage
  21. Finn breaks free and threatens to destroy the machine
  22. Jasper continues, they fight, and Callie smashes Jasper’s head in
  23. Finn realizes that the machine takes photos at 8 am as well
  24. Callie reveals that she has been using the morning photo to send herself messages to manipulate events and rekindle her relationship with Finn
  25. Finn decides he is going to destroy the machine, Callie shoots Finn creating the blood splatter Heidecker sees in the photo Mr. B had sent him
  26. Callie attempts to send herself a message by sticking a message to the window to fix events and Big Joe discovers Jasper and Finn murdered
  27. The paper falls from the window…it’s a wrap.

Time Lapse Time Travel Rules

Here’s the tricky thing about Time Lapse, there are some perceived rules within the movie – that are completely false.  And there are hard and fast rules that are unbreakable. Knowing which are which is the trick to understanding how this movie actually works. So to understand how a 24-hour period works in Time Lapse, I drew this diagram on my whiteboard.  Yeah, I didn’t photoshop it, yeah its got the sheen of a 2-week old banana.  But it explains what I’m trying to say faster and clearer than anything I could come up with otherwise.


So at 8 pm, a photo arrives from the machine.  It shows (in this example anyway) three people standing in the window.  OK.  So the trio (triumvirate, trifecta?) decide, no matter what…they had to make that photo a reality come 8 pm the next night.  Come what may.  If they were showing the sports page.  Then they had to show the sports page.  If two people were kissing, then dangit…that’s what had to happen or else they would cease to exist. Literally, that is what they say in the movie.  “Otherwise we will cease to exist.”

I’ll get back to that the further we go down through the rabbit hole.  But that is how the movie’s mechanics work at their simplest.  If you don’t get this, then go back and read again, because things just get crazier from here.  So as the days start progressing on the flow starts to look more like this:


Right?  While the machine is taking the photo for the previous day, it is also spitting out the photo for the next evening.  And so on and so forth. Because, the assumption throughout the movie is, that the machine takes one photo every day at 8 pm only. Well, we know that this isn’t the case at all.  We know that not only does it not just take one photo per day, but it is also setup to take photos at 8 am.  Which would overlay another set of possibilities to the timeline.


So, we can see here that we have the 8 pm timeline going on top…and more importantly we have the 8 am photos going on the bottom.  Not only does it take photos TWICE a day, but it also has the potential for taking photos further into the future, because that is how Dr. Heidecker finds out that something bad has (will, might have already?) happened to her colleague, Mr. B.  Right?

But the biggest insight to this movie is not that there are two pictures a day. It’s more subtle than that. During the 8 pm timeline we see that they believe that they must obey the photos in the future or they will cease existing. Right? But in the 8 am timeline Callie believes no such thing.  She sees the photos as an endless loop of possibility. Callie begins to do things, and try things, and then redo them again. Because she understood that if she screwed up, she just had to tell her previous self to do it differently…and she could fix it.

While one timeline is locked into a predestined timeline of inevitability, the other morning timeline has been manipulating the day all along. Callie is the real puppet master in this movie.  She has been manipulating both guys towards her own ends. “Kiss Jasper too long” she says to herself, because she wants to make Finn jealous. The reason this is revolutionary is because upon our first viewing we assume that it is Jasper and Finn that are the evil ones.  Using the machine for personal gain…and ultimately murder.  But they were actually just a pawn in Callie’s larger mission.  We know this for sure because we see that she says she can fix the final timeline if only she can put a note up to change the final fateful events.

The Recursivity of Time Lapse

I had cobbled a crappy whiteboard drawing together, but so many people were flaming out on this idea I decided I needed to put more detail into the diagram. And so I’ve added two diagrams of how the flow works. So here are my new time sketches detailing out how a basic flow could work utilizing solely the 8:00 pm photos.


So to understand the flow – please follow it from the beginning to the end first. First 8:00 pm photo shows and says, “Go gambling on this horse,” which deviates the first timeline from continuing without any gambling in it. The next night another photo shows up and it says hide the keys (or whatever), and a new timeline is created which includes the hidden keys. Ostensibly, the person (you prime, or whatever) that sent the photo back continues indefinitely forward unaware of the ripple downstream. But we have even more power than that available to us because we have both the 8:00 am and the 8:00 pm timelines available to us, right? So it should look more like this:


I took the same drawing, and I added 8:00 am stop points, and then just worked it from the back to the front of the timelines. Oh NO, tell my previous self about x. Day 5 – 8:00 pm, you send back a message to your Day 4 – 8:00 pm self. Then you could take the recursion to a new level by also having your Day 5 – 8:00 am self also tell your Day 4 – 8:00 am self something else as well. Then your Day 3 – 8:00 pm self and your 8:00 am, Day 2 – 8:00 pm and 8:00 am, and so on. You basically walk the cat backwards until time is adjusted to your liking.

But the thing that most people in the comments are missing is this. In most movies the camera – the point of view – discards the secondary timelines and only follows the effects. Time Lapse does not do that. It should still work regardless of where our concentration is pointed. Right? It should have been possible to send backwards a message all the way to the beginning of the photo machine’s life. And in so doing resolve any timeline conflict or problem that you have encountered so far. Right?

Time Lapse Explanation Conclusion

The key to understanding the final moments of the movie have been hard for some to understand ultimately.  I’ve seen posts on Reddit and other places where they seem to not fundamentally get that final scene.  So let’s walk through it slowly.

Immediately after the big Jasper/Finn fight Callie smashes Finn’s head in…she then let’s herself know that she should swap out the affair photo with the charades night photo.  She also tells herself to kill Jasper to save Finn as we see here.


She’s always the one that is willing to escalate the fastest because she knows she can fix it later. Then after that, the great big enormous revelation is that Finn finds out about the 8 am photo. Whaa? He freaks out.  Callie says, no wait, wait, it’s all good because I’ve been using the photos in order to fix our relationship, rekindle our love for one another!  (By kissing Jasper too long, and covering over the fact that they had been sleeping together, but never mind all that.)  Finn flips out (rightly) and decides he is going to destroy the machine.  Callie shoots Finn (how’s that for rekindling their relationship? But Callie knows that she can go back and unshoot him later as long as she sends herself a message, so it isn’t permanent. Right?  Make sense?) and blood sprays the wall and window.

So, the final message that Callie puts on the window is CRITICAL.  “Don’t get caught at the window.”  But notice something critical about this photo?  She holds it up with a single piece of tape.  (If she were to get free from Joe the next message she should post at 8 pm should be, USE TWO PIECES OF TAPE DANGIT!! Hahaha.)


What do we have?  She killed Jasper to stop him from hurting Finn.  And she killed Finn to keep him from destroying the machine.  But that was all temporary…IF, IF, IF she can send herself a message to undo the chaos.  She had been living with the flexibility of time for so long she had become callous to her own actions.  They didn’t mean anything anymore. She could do whatever she wanted and get away with it. But when Joe, the recently hired police officer, finds Callie surrounded by blood and dead people everywhere (including the dead bodies in Mr. B’s storage) he is definitely taking her in.  Which is fine with Callie. Take me in.  No problem.  But it’s when the sign falls down that she comes unglued.  Right?  Nothing mattered until that happened.  She will now see the picture that Mr. B’s colleague sees and nothing else.  There will be no going back now.

As a result, the movie ends with Callie going to jail for the murder of four people.  Mr. B, Dr. Heidecker, Jasper and also Finn.  She is covered in their blood after beating in heads and shooting people.  She wasn’t able to go back and undo this final thread, and so it becomes locked in reality.  The sign falling is the single most significant event that happens throughout the duration of the film, because it dis-empowers the historical Callie from being able to undo the chaos and damage that naturally results from her selfishness and manipulation of the timeline.  But it also proves out the previous photo of Mr. B and shows that what ultimately came true was the initial photograph sent to Dr. Heidecker.


This movie is awesome.  And really holds together the deeper you dive into it.  I’d love to know your thoughts on whether I completely missed it in my time travel movie Time Lapse explained post.  Let me know below!


UPDATE – Look who just won the geek of the day award. Bradley King just contacted me…out of the blue. Here’s what he had to say:

Mr. Holmes! Bradley King here, writer / director of Time Lapse. I just wanted to say I stumbled on your page while seeing how our results in Google were looking, and I was very impressed! It’s really gratifying to see someone accurately analyze and break down the movie. Our outlining board looked very similar to your dry erase boards. Great work!

How ya like me now?  Hahahah. No, it’s cool. I think he has already realized contacting me was a bad idea because I’ve literally contacted his mother for all the necessary best-friend forms…and what not’s. Cause, now that HAS to happen. No, but seriously, Mr. King even agreed to do an interview with me after finding this post…which, you JUST HAVE to check out, or we can’t be friends.

Such a great movie.

Edited by, CY

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139 Responses

  1. Dan

    Question on the last day:

    Timer goes off at 8am/8pm. 8 AM she gets “caught” with the message “Kill Jasper…”. 8pm is the police tape.

    What is she posing for with the “don’t get caught at the window?” 8 am has already passed, 8pm hasn’t happned yet.
    We (audience) know that there is another picture being taken due to the professor having set the device to take a picture of the future weeks in advance, but she doesn’t know this, nor know when the camera will go off.

    • Samantha

      I have one question… that will probably lead to more. I understand and agree all that was said. But what was the photo Callie replaced with the sex photo? I thought it was the caution tape as an 8pm photo. So wouldn’t that mean she would get caught by the police 8pm of the day she killed Finn and jasper? Is this true : the day she held up the “don’t get caught” message was the same day she killed the two boys. (Or was it for the next morning?) because if it was the next morning I don’t get it!

      • Taylor Holmes

        Hey Samantha…
        It’s been a while since I’ve watched this film, so I don’t know for sure, BUT, I seem to recall that she didn’t replace it. There were several blanks on the wall that they wondered about. Hrm… and yeah. Look at the photo I included of the photo wall up top in my post. I count six empty spots. And I’m guessing all six were photos that she pulled down. No?


      • Samantha

        Yeah I just saw it and watched it multiple times. Haha im talking about the photo she replaced that came out of the machine the night Jasper’s money shot was taken. (So the day before everyone got killed basically) what was the photo that was originally there?

      • Taylor Holmes

        ah. sure. was unclear which photos you were referring to. good question. can’t even conjecture. (which is all I really ever do, tbh). definitely going to have to flip that scene back open and point my brain at this movie again.

  2. Taylor Holmes

    Hey Dan,
    Great question – I stared at that photo for a bit too before I remembered the details of that moment well enough to make sense of it. Let me let the movie speak for itself. And let the dialogue between Finn and Callie at the end explain itself.

    Callie “what are you doing?!”
    Finn “I’m doing what we should have done from the start… I’m going to destroy that f-ing machine.”
    Callie “Stop, please stop! You said we could change things right? Then all I have to do is put a new note in the window for tonight’s picture. Then when I get the picture last night, I’ll know to prevent you from catching me at the window just now…”

    So it isn’t referring to being caught by the police but by Finn. Yes? I think that’s right anyway! Hahaha. Does that logically follow?

    • Richard

      How will she get tonight’s picture last night? Last night is gone unless you r saying they travel back in time. Nonsense.

      • Taylor Holmes

        Hahah Richard…
        Time travel is confusing. Sure. But movies have been playing with the idea for years and years. Time Lapse is pretty simple as far as time travel movies go. I’d love to hear your thoughts on Primer. That will absolutely unhinge you when it begins to unravel. You see them get the picture the night before. Every time they pull a picture out of the machine and look at it, they sent a picture back in time. No? Hehehe. If you didn’t understand that, then you definitely didn’t understand my diagrams. That’s for sure.

    • chris

      So how did the initial picture she found by herself have a message written by her ? Ehhh this movie was poorly done. I was fascinated by it till the ending, then it turned into a big blob of debatable garbage.

  3. Kuching

    (If she were to get free from Joe the next message she should post at 8pm should be, USE TWO PIECES OF TAPE DANGIT!! Hahaha.) <<< meaning the past callie has to wait for 8pm to receive this?

  4. Taylor Holmes

    Hey there Kuching,
    I was just sort of joking when I said that. But that message that fell was going back to herself to keep herself from being caught by Finn, not by Joe. If that makes sense. She caught by Joe at that moment when posting – but it was to avoid letting Finn know that she had been jacking around with time all this… um, time. Yes?


  5. Kuching

    Yeah I knew you were, I meant if she really did it. Haha nvm, i’m normally good with mind f*ck movies. Apparently this one made my mind blown. And it’s a bit hard for me to understand had to read this page many times, lol, hope someone can explain it to me face to face. Questions, I have so many, but imma ask this.

    So she was really cheating on Jasper? Geez

    Alright so basically all these are meant to happen right? Because the tenant had a picture of (the hat, blood splatter on the wall, the spiral-green-thing painting). So it’s inevitable.

  6. Taylor Holmes

    I responded to this – no idea where me EXTRAORDINARILY witty and insightful comment went! hahaha. You really have to stare at the blue diagram I drew out that shows both the 8am and 8pm photos. Then think through the recursive possibilities. Right? I think create a new white board diagram mashup showing how Time Lapse can get infinitely recursive by showing different pictures, and walking it backwards in time… So look up in the post a little later today and you’ll see it I’m sure. But basically, if she sends herself a message at 8am yesterday, and then in the 8pm photo last night she would then do a new thing differently, which impacts the photo for yesterday at 8am… which can go back another 24 hours. If she worked at it she could recursively go backwards in time effecting changes until she got out of this mess she is in.

    In the diagram I just created I just walk us through how she could just cycle perpetually changing events over and over again in a 24 hour cycle. But yeah, its complicated the more you think about it. But I will point out one thing that you said that I liked. She was having an affair with Jasper before they discovered the photo machine. It was removed from the wall by Callie. So yeah… that is a fact. She uses the affair later in the timeline to spark an interest from Finn.

  7. Kuching

    I see. lemme ask this, what happens if they dont follow the pictures? will they not a have future then (like what callie said)? and you kinda have a typo above ”Callie smashes Fin’s head” << when it's actually Jaspers head.

  8. Taylor Holmes

    Hey there Kuching,
    Thanks for the typo tip. As for your question. This Wednesday I’ll be releasing an interview with the director that answers that exact question. I’ve been waiting til Wednesday in order to correspond with the release of the movie, but basically all three characters have different views, but Callie’s is the one that matter… Right? And she is actively changing the photos regularly. It’s a good interview. Fun for me anyway.

  9. Lizzie

    Thanks for the overview.

    What’s really got me confused is that there seems to be 2 photos for the night of the last day. The first one is the real one that the machine put out (for 24 hours ahead) which had the crime scene tape (crime scene don’t cross) but we are also asked to believe that the photo that Heidecker had that Mr B sent (a week ago) was for that night. It doesn’t make any sense!

    Your thoughts? How can there be 2 photos of the same night? And if there are (i.e. the machine did one a week in advance because Mr B was playing around with it), then it’s proof that they can change the events of the photo (because the “real-time” one was the crime scene after she gets arrested).


    • Taylor Holmes

      Hey Lizzie,
      I chatted with @bpcooper (co-writer of Time Lapse) about your question, and he confirmed my second option. He literally said:

      “Yes it was taken post 8am, and before cops descended upon the crime scene later that same day. Mr B realized seeing that far in advance was likely bad news ridden sets machine back to it’s 8am/8pm settings, then we find it.”

      So there you have it! hahah. Twitter is awesome.

  10. taylor

    Awesome question. And sorry for the delay but I wanted to watch the ending again to validate my assumptions. I think you are spot on actually. Though not exactly there. Here’s what I think happened – and I plan to update the post to include photos of both Polaroids for comparison once I’m close to a computer again…

    Let’s call photo 1 the 24 hour cycle photo. Photo 1 shows the police tape, the blood, and the painting of the electric tube thing.

    Photo 2 is the photo mailed to Dr. Heidegger longer than a week ago of the same night. This photo shows the same bloody window, the same painting, but no tape.

    Which is what you said. But I just need it to be spot on before I continue. There are a couple possibilities I see but only one makes the most logical sense and adheres best to inherent logic of the movie.

    Option 1 is that the machine was wrong… Or more accurately, that time changed between the time the photo was taken and between the second one. This is viable because we see that it is possible to change time per Callie, and her experimenting with the morning photos. This was also confirmed in my interview with Bradley King, the writer and director, which you can read here: http://taylorholmes.com/2015/05/15/interview-with-time-lapse-director-bradley-king/

    Option 1 cons – I mean, other than it being a cop out? Nothing I guess. We first learn that the machine can photo weeks in advance and its immediately overwritten by the police tape, or vice versa!?! No no no. Need a better answer. And we have it, in option 2.

    Option 2 – photo 2 happened before photo 1. We know Mr. B can change the times, and even the dates the photo is taken. So he sets it to go at 5pm let’s say. Callie puts the the sign up that says, “DONT GET CAUGHT AT THE WINDOW”. Right? The cop shows up, and the sign Falls, and he halls her away, right. The photo snaps from two weeks ago, and is mailed to Dr. Heidegger. The police arrive and turn the bedroom into a crime scene and bam, 8pm the photo snaps.

    Option 2 cons? – no idea. Seems to work perfectly to me. No? Tell me what the cons are. I’m not 100% – but it seems to logically flow.

    Love to hear your thoughts.

    • Sebastian

      I was wondering the same thing about those two photos (the one with the cop tape and the one without). What makes most sense is option 2 as you have stated. The possibility of thinking that a photo can be taken outside of the 8am/8pm. The Dr receiving the photo from that day but another time. While the 8pm photo being the one with the police tape.

      In the ending we are most likely seeing seeing the past the moment the Dr received the photo from the future which we just saw happen. This creating the set of events that follow. We are just seeing how the story came to unfold. Basically the end is the beginning.

      Option 1 If this is true then the timeline could never truly be changed and it seems more likely that she had some good guesses in regards of how she should react to a certain situation. She believed that she could change the past if needed. However in reality she wasn’t really changing anything but replicating the photos she saw. She thought that she could change things by thinking that her future self was changing things for the better and that she could do the same is she messed up and send a message to her past self. However we saw that it is not the case she just ended replicating a photo that already had happened.

      Option 2: There are different timelines and we are just seeing the best possible outcome where all her decisions were on point right up till the end where she can no longer “fix anything”.

      I think option one is best because it sustains the idea that the camera shoots future pics with 100% accuracy.

      Anyways nice movie spent quite some time debating over it withmyself jajajaja.

      • smann276

        Yes – this option 1 seems to be the correct interpretation for the movie. The question is really what is happening when the camera goes off.

        It is suggested by Taylor that the “machine is taking the photo for the previous day, it is also spitting out the photo for the next evening.” I’m not sure this is correct. I envision the machine as fully a future camera. Meaning that when we see the machine flash and spit out a photo, the flash and the photo are tied together and are shooting 24 hours into the future. This means the machine is never “taking the photo for the previous day”. When we see the characters attempting to replicate the scene in time for the camera flash, this is really unnecessary as the flash that we see go off is NOT taking their picture real time – that flash we see is actually taking a photo of that location 24 hours in the future.

        This interpretation leads to a deterministic tone and really a single timeline that we see in the movie. Nothing can be changed and every attempt at trying to change anything fails as it is all deterministic.

  11. Dave

    Great review, it really helped me understand the movie.

    It does seem to me that the question of whether or not Callie can really manipulate time is debatable. All of the photos of her sending messages back to herself don’t really prove anything. In the final scenes where she tells herself to kill Jasper this has already happened, and she is just making sure her 8AM yesterday self is going to get that message, which is presumably the exact same message she herself saw at 8AM the previous day. Couldn’t all of the messages she sent to herself be messages that she already saw?

    Maybe I am missing something, but there doesn’t appear to be any definitive evidence she has done anything other than repeat the same messages to herself that she has already seen. How would she have known to kiss Jasper too long if she hadn’t already done it, or already seen a message to do so which both are events she can’t control.

    I think the validation of this theory comes at the end when the sign falls from the window. The additional picture taken from Mr. B shows no sign in the window, and that event must occur, so the sign must fall.

    My two cents, great movie and thanks for the write up!

    • Taylor Holmes

      Hey there Dave,
      The reason no one can prove to you that Callie has effectively changed history is because all we know is the history that is. Right? We are only moving forward and only experience the changes that stick, you see? King and Cooper have chosen to only walk us forward, avoiding the repeats and redirections of the past. Which is gorgeous for cooper and king because there can be no definitive answer. But here is a selective slice from my interview with Bradley King I posted here some time back…

      Taylor – “One of the central themes of Time Lapse is the concept of predestination, it seems like very early on the characters are pretty convinced they have to do the photo’s bidding regardless. Could the characters have just walked away? I asked this same question of Nacho Vigalondo regarding his classic time travel movie Timecrimes and his answer? ‘The question is much more interesting than any possible answer!’”

      Bradley – “Damn, there goes Nacho Vigalondo stealing the best possible answer for this question! It’s very true though – when I get asked this at Q&A sessions my usual answer is, “I don’t know, is it possible?”. It’s clear that by the end, the characters themselves are split on this. In spite of Heidecker’s explanation, Jasper obviously believes there is no way to alter the photos. Finn seems to have come around to the possibility that things can be altered, but only out of desperation, and it seems to me that when he packs that suitcase he’s still not 100% sure what might happen. And then of course (spoiler here) Callie obviously is convinced that things can be changed, which probably came out of her experience of doing things behind the scenes and feeling a sense of empowerment from that. But who’s right? I think the question is definitely more interesting than any answer I could give. In my own imagination I have definitely explored both ways, and both are interesting.”

      I physically can’t answer it better than the guy created it did! Hahah.

      • Corey

        No Dave is right, there is a serious error there. There is nothing Callie can do to change that she killed two people because she’s not literally going back in time. She can only send a photo to her past self which would mean there is an alternate, or many alternate time frames, but that won’t change the fact that she killed two people in the time frame that we saw in the movie. It’s not like Groundhog Day where she’ll wake up the next day and Finn and Jasper will be alive again. She’s not reliving any day, she’s only helping herself in an alternate time. This is hard to comprehend and I’m trying to focus to explain this but I believe I’m actually on to something here! I took the ending as Callie just going crazy and becoming unhinged to the point where she thought she could really go back in time. She became so sure of her time travel abilities that she didn’t think twice about killing her bf. She had a crazy look at the end of the movie too, kind of like she wasn’t completely with it anymore. Idk, maybe I’m missing something here but this movie didn’t make complete sense to me.

  12. Lynn Donovan

    Hi there,

    Thank you for the review. This movie is making me crazy, but I guess that was the purpose of it. I think I need to watch it again to make sure I got everything because everytime I try to put the pieces together, I am lost! Haha! Anyway, my question is: at the end of the movie, after the big fight scene, Finn decides to paint the weird tube with the green thingy inside, according to the photo, to make sure that Mr. B would go down in his storage room so Finn would find the keys later, right? And he seems to realize something and hesitates a little. For a second, I thought that he was realizing the same thing as me. Correct me if I’m wrong. What would happen if Finn had never paint the tube? Mr. B. would never have gone in his basement, therefore, we would never have died. Therefore the trio would never have found the machine and everything would be back to normal. I thought that was it, that Finn, realizing this, would destroy the painting to make sure that mess would never have happened. Is this possible? Or am I completely mistaken?

    I am sorry if this is not clear, trying to explain time travel paradox in a language that is not your native language is like trying to understand time travel paradox at all. Soooo difficult :)

    • Taylor Holmes

      Hey there Lynn,
      You are spot on. Did you read my interview with the director and writer of the movie? That actually might help you a bit with some of these details. You can find it right here. Not mentioning it to gloat, just letting you know where my answer is mainly coming from.

      So Finn is the character that is so thoroughly locked in my predestination that he can’t seem to manage. He wants free of the machine, because he sees how it is controlling everything. And conversely, it is Callie that doesn’t see the machine as predetermining their future, but she sees it as a tool that will allow her to manipulate the near-future/near-past (depending on how you look at it.) So while Finn is about to propose in marriage to this gal, two people couldn’t see things more differently than these two. Right?

      Yeah, so when Finn is thinking about not painting it, he knows that a lot hangs in the balance in this painting. And yet, he still paints it. Because he sees it as locked in. But it isn’t. Callie shows us that, she has been manipulating the daily outcomes since the beginning since she is the only one who knew about the 8am photos. Finn had the most power of them all though – he could jump them back to the beginning (over a couple months previous anyway) if only he had the courage to change it all.

      I completely understand your question – and think this speaks more to their perspectives on the camera, and their own perspectives and limitations. Which is similar to different people you meet right? I have a guy on my team who flips out if the rules aren’t defined. And me? Personally, love it when the rules aren’t defined! haha. Finn believes he’s trapped. And Callie sees empowerment… but look where empowerment got her!! hahah.

      • Troy

        I see so many people misinterpret Finn’s realization, I have to comment on it.

        At the end, Finn is not thinking about not painting the picture; he doesn’t ask himself, “what if?” Instead, he is realizing the discrepancy between the last two photos. He speaks to himself with very specific questions, “This isn’t possible… I was always going to paint this?… We haven’t changed anything… Then where did this [photo] come from?”

        To understand, let’s define a few terms I’ll be using to explain:

        Last photo – this is the picture with blood, the coil painting, and police tape
        Fake last photo – this is the sex photo Callie swapped in place of the last photo
        2nd to last photo – this is the photo sent to Dr. Heidecker, with blood, coil painting, but no police tape

        After Callie kills Jasper, she swaps the fake-last-photo for the real last-photo, and gives it to Finn as evidence they have changed the future. But as Finn begins to paint the coil, he realizes he has a separate photo (the 2nd-to-last-photo) that has shown the same scene as the last-photo (minus police tape) for at least a week. Which means the future didn’t “just change” as Callie tried to claim.

        Basically, either both pictures should have changed as Callie tried to claim, or neither should have ever changed… but here he was with supposedly one of each, which is the discrepancy he realized: it can’t be both. And as he then discovers, he is correct.

  13. mae

    Everything is clearly explained. i just have one question, how come Mr. B got a picture from weeks in ahead? I thought the camera only spit out a day ahead photo??

  14. Taylor Holmes

    Hey Mae,
    When the movie starts the audience believes that the machine only takes photos every evening at 8pm. Later we learn that the machine had been taking photos at 8pm and 8am… thus the whole Callie, sneakiness dilemma and the downward spiral of her controlling the whole movie.

    But then we also learn from Dr. Heidecker that he was able to control the machine at will really and he was able to take photos well into the future. He was the only one capable of controlling the machine in this way, and since he was now dead, the machine couldn’t be controlled in this way again. Make sense? Great question.

    • mae

      Yes makes sense. But of some sort, did Mr. B intentionally go at the storage room to check up on that thing(with the green spiral) to prevent his death to happen? Coz if that so, why didnt he just adjust the camera setting to the next day/s to see if he’s alive or not.

      Is my question confusing? sorry.

      Mr. B thought he’s gonna die soon right? That’s why he sent the lady(killed by jasper) a photo of that scene a week after his death. So why not like adjust it a little forward to verify if he’s gonna be dead or not.

      But perhaps that photo wont be taken that way if he’s alive right? Meh. Deng paradox. :]] thanks for the answer.

  15. Taylor Holmes

    Hey Mae,
    I have a couple ideas as to how to answer these – but thought it might be good to see if the directors: Bradley King or BP Cooper, will answer your questions for you. Heck, what’s the worst that could happen? They’ve answered before, so we shall see.


    • Taylor Holmes

      Alright Mae,
      I asked Bradley King the following question:

      @bradleydeanking & @bpcooper re: #timelapse – Was Mr. B the inadvertent prime mover by trying to prevent the deaths?

      And here is his response – not overly helpful, but that’s twitter for you:

      That’s an excellent question @tayoflore. It is conceivable that none of it would have happened if Mr. B hadn’t acted.

      I personally didn’t correlate it exactly to the green swirl painting. But maybe I missed something and you need to educate me? I mean, why would Mr. B think, “Oh no! Green swirl painting!?” But yeah, King anyway agrees with you that it may have inadvertently kicked everything off by trying to save lives.

  16. George Deli

    Thanks, nice summary and explanation. My perception is that Callie misunderstands how the machine works and thinks she can time travel. This is not the case, since we only have one time-line here (at least we see one time-line). Changing things based on what Callie did wrong, could not change the time-line we do see, but could steer the creation of a new time-line from the previous day, where she would fix what she wanted by reading her own messages. However, there is no way she could possible know that since she does not time-travel per se (not getting in a time machine going around time/space, which would allow her to have consciousness of her previous actions or memory of them). She somehow seems to believe that she will wake up tomorrow and it will be yesterday (heh), enabling her to fix the situation. The only way this could happen would be if she was indeed time-travelling. The ending of the movie hints an inevitability of the time-line, since the letter falls of the window, leading to the capture of the original blood-stain picture. So all of it happened because Callie was confused about what is happening. Moral of the story? Teach your girlfriend some basic time-travel rules! :)

    • Taylor Holmes

      Senjor Deli,
      I completely agree – and simultaneously disagree (in an alternate timeline!) hahah. Callie was definitely jacking with the timelines, but only (as you said) in an alternate timeline we are not privy too.

      It’s sort of irrelevant seeing as though we are watching (most probably) worst possible (ie first iteration) of the ground hog day because King and Cooper were barreling towards the cliff with the breaks completely out. Maybe I can diagram

      [it jacked up the spacing so I just removed it.]

      But A could send back a message to yesterday to not paint the paint, don’t kiss Finn, don’t bet on the races… And then B could choose to follow A’s advice and then just continue on past that decision tree item and on into the clear blue yonder… Oblivious to A, or even C. It could work, and obviously Callie believes it will work, if not for the faulty scotch tape. She’s (A Callie) going to jail regardless, which I think is your point. But she is confident there is a version of her timeline that would be corrected… IF! Hahaha. Good observation though. I should diagram that – and how it would possibily play out and put it in the post.

  17. compugor

    Just watched it on Netflix and here is my review (4 Stars):

    Engaging little sci-fi fantasy drama/mystery where the plot thickens as the bodies pile up. Good character development, with a story that twists & turns and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Includes profanity, alcohol, drugs, bloody violence and murder – all on a very low budget. The whole thing takes place at a small apartment complex. Crafty and creepy; the lesson of it turns out to indeed be: “you can’t f— with time”.

    Of course there’s no “right” or “wrong”, but when it comes to the “rules”, here’s my interpretation:

    The camera takes pictures of the future. That future will happen. No matter what the characters do, they will always find the living room exactly representative of the photo taken 24 hours beforehand (or 1 week if so programmed).
    The pictures it takes of the gambling results posted on the window are the next day’s results which they haven’t yet posted on the window in the present. The camera is spitting out the photo (polaroid) of the future at the same time it takes it (remember it is a future camera). The camera does not take any photos of the present, nor send them back in time somehow (that’s really a stretch!).
    The characters were wrong in thinking they could “cease to exist” and that they could even change the predetermined future. If they were to change anything then the camera would’ve known it (if its a future camera worth its salt) and the photo would already reflect what they would “change”.
    Callie was delusional in thinking she could manipulate timelines at her pleasure using the 8am photos. The only way any of her notes would be in any of the photos is if they were on the window 24 hours after the photos were taken. She could conceivably send notes to her future self (a-la the gambling results), but there’s no going backwards.
    A confusing point is when Callie says that a photo changed, but it actually didn’t as shown in the flashback. She had swapped the photo and then presented the original for that cycle to make it look as if the photo had changed.
    Allowing for changing timelines which are not presented in the story’s plot, while certainly imaginative, makes it all meaningless. Maybe that’s the intention but it is so far-reaching as to take the movie’s premise from fun to fubar.

    • smann276

      100% agree. This explains what happens when Callie first finds the machine and sees the initial photo of herself (“knock over rack, remove daytime photos”).

      But one thing this deterministic interpretation doesn’t explain well is the stuff about Finn painting the green spiral to make sure Mr. B goes to the storage room so that Finn can find his keys to get out of the storage room. None of this makes sense in a strictly single timeline (no changes).

      A plot hole that certainly exists is that when Callie exchanges the old sex photo, Jasper does not recognize that photo is from a past time and thinks it is something that HAS to happen the next day. Seems he would certainly remember and realize this photo was from the past. I guess he could be thinking they have sex again since he so blindly trusts the machine and its results.

  18. compugor

    Oops I meant to say Callie could conceivably send future notes to her present self (a-la the gambling results)…

  19. Roger

    I’m still a little confused.
    The photos at 8pm show tomorrow night at 8pm. I get that.
    What do the photos at 8am show?

    Callie has already shot Finn dead. She does not actually time travel. She is putting a note in the window to say “Do not get caught at the window”. If she did get to see that (she doesn’t cos the cop comes along), when would she see that note?

    Would she see it at 8am the next morning? If so, she already got caught at the window the day before, and shot Finn the day before. So that’s useless.

    Or am I actually figuring this out as I type and she actually sees that message at 8am the previous morning, or 8am that morning.

    So if she shot Finn on Monday afternoon, she sends a message back to her previous self, who picks up a photo earlier that Monday morning, warning her not to get caught at the window, so then she ends up not shooting Finn.

    So when did she get the photo that says swap photos/kill Jasper to save Finn? If she already got that photo 8am that morning, then she can’t send herself another note on the same day not to get caught.

    I reckon Jasper already killed Finn, so she had to tell her previous self to kill Jasper to save Finn. So I want to know (please) when/why she sent herself each note, and when she actually received it. The major ones, like kiss longer, something about making out in the car and so on.

    And the final picture would have had “don’t get caught at window” if it didn’t fall off. So it ends up being an empty sofa, blood on the window, the hat on the pillow and the green squiggly painting.

    But Mr B already got this photo two weeks ago, two weeks into the future (thats why he thought something bad was gonna happen to him). So now the camera is gonna spit out the same picture. What’s up with that? If the note didn’t fall off the window, Previous Callie was going to see this photo, with the note on the window. So now Previous Callie will see the same photo Mr B saw two weeks ago. How does that add to the story?

    I’m kinda getting it, and then losing it again.

    • Taylor Holmes

      First things first,
      The 8pm photo shows what will happen at 8pm the following night. The 8am photo shows what will happen at 8am the following morning. Does that help? I would think that would help you out of your confusion pretty significantly.

      They get photos twice a day. But Mr. B was the only one who was able to capture photos from much further out in the timeline. Make sense?

      • Todd Gray

        Hello Mr. Holmes,
        if you are still in contact with the director/writer ask him where he got the inspiration for this film. It is strikingly extremely familiar to a twilight zone episode. I have listed the episode and few of the similarities below.

        The Twilight Zone: Season 2, Episode 10
        A Most Unusual Camera (16 Dec. 1960)

        – The Twilight Zone used 3 man characters ( 2 males and 1 female).
        – They used the camera for gambling – betting on horses instead of dogs as in Time Lapse.
        – The female was the last one to survive and it can be argued that the was the real puppet master.
        – The camera brings about the ultimate demise of three.

        I guess what they say is true, there is nothing new under the sun……….. and in movies.

        When you get a chance please view this episode of The Twilight Zone. I would like to hear your thoughts.

  20. Matthew

    OK, here is the problem with the entire premise of the movie. If the camera is taking photos of events that occur 24 hours into the future, then the camera image generated would not include the notices that the characters place on the window at the present moment. The messages are on the window in the present. The only way the notices would be included in the image is if the notices were posted on the window at 7:59am of Day 1 and remained on the window until 8:00am of Day 2, or for 24 hours and 1 minute.

    However if the messages are removed from the window immediately after the camera takes the photo, then the messages are not on the window 24 hours later during the time period represented by the image. The movie falls apart here.

    Is the photo taken a representation of the future in 24 hours with the exception of the messages? Cannot have it both ways.

    • Freshmaker

      The photo is sent back in time, where it spits out the physical photo. Their past selves will see’s it as if it will happen 24 hours later. The notes dont have to be on the window for 24 hours. The camera snaps a photo of the current physical reality, but what comes out is a photo of the future. The photo of the current physical reality comes out in the past.

  21. Matthew

    Now, let’s explore the dog racing scenario. Let us assume that the compulsive gambler takes the results of the races for the day and posted them on the window. The race must occur prior to 8:00pm or else the character is not yet aware of the race results in order to post them. So, the race ends at 7:58pm on day 1. The character posts the results: Nero to Win, Augustus to Place and Caesar to Show at 7:59pm on day 1, the camera takes the photo at 8:00pm. Because the resultant image is of the window in exactly 24 hours, the race results must remain on the window for 24 hours and 2 minutes or, until 8:00pm on day 2. After all, if the results are not on the window at 8:00pm on day 2, then the image taken at 8:00pm on day 1 cannot possibly include the results.

    Here is the problem. If the results of a race that occurred at 7:58pm of Day 1 cannot be communicated to the time lapse until 8:00pm of day 1, and must remain on the window until 8:00pm of day 2 in order to be included in the image of the future that the camera generates at 8:00pm of day 1, then the results are stale. The race already happened. The information is worthless.

    • Phillip

      That’s what I couldn’t wrap my head around. The whole race betting thing.

      I thought maybe they just wrote random results, and because they were in the picture for 8pm the next day then those results had to be the true outcome from the sporting events.

      I don’t know.

    • Brandy

      I’m going to use weekdays vs day 1/day 2. Tuesday at exactly 8 pm they put the note on the window says the race stats from earlier on Tuesday. That picture is spit out at 8 pm on Monday which gives them the idea to write the note in the first place. Pretty helpful to know the race stats of Tuesday on Monday night. After the note of Tuesdays stats are taped on the window (after 8pm) they go over and see what they are going to put on the window on Wednesday by looking at the newly printed picture. Helpful?

      • Matthew

        That helps a lot. I was viewing it entirely from the perspective of time moving forward only. It did not occur to me that the messages would be received by the Callie from 24 hours before.

      • Chad


        Based on the logic of the camera, I don’t think that assumption is correct. The 8pm photo (that pops out the camera), shows what happens 24 hours in advance. The 8am photo (that pops out the camera), shows what happened 24 hours in the past, or yesterday at 8am).

        If that is true, then the only way they could have gotten the scores in the past was to take the photo in the camera at 8am, which isn’t the case knowing that only Callie knew about that functionality early in the movie.

        The only unknown that I’m pondering now is, what would happen if they didn’t take the picture they were suppose to take at 8pm.

        And this is where I could be way off in my logic, which is changing constantly, but the only way they got the picture of the racing scores was because after they thought about the capabilities of the camera, the foreseen future might have changed, causing the alternative universe of themselves to take the pictures of the racing scores knowing their past selves would use it for the future.

        This is driving me crazy, so I’m trying to figure it out, and I could be completely off. Taylor, how does that sound?

      • Taylor Holmes

        Hey Chad,
        I think you get it? But let me try and restate it more concretely.

        So you me and Brandy decide we want to game the photo machine a bit. Today is Sunday at 3pm. And we decide we are going to play the stock market – so we say to ourselves, “Tomorrow we will need to make a poster of the biggest changing stocks across the day and show it to the camera at 8pm tomorrow night.”

        Then, 5 hours later, Sunday night at 8pm we get the picture out of the machine. And there is Chad, myself and Brandy, all holding a big sheet of paper telling us that Facebook was up 12% on CEO news, Oracle was up 9% on good sales announcement, and AT&T was up 15% after a stock split. So Monday morning at the market open, we sell everything and buy $100,000 worth of call options on AT&T. At the end of the day, we exercise our options and make like $50,000 or some crazy amount of money (never mind you can’t buy options for a day out, but whatever, you get the idea.)

        But here’s the important part. at 8pm (on Monday evening, just to state the obvious), we make sure that we get back to the window in order to put the poster stating the big movers of the day, so that we will still see it the previous day. Right? Otherwise, today, and the earnings can’t have happened. Does that line up with what you were saying Chad?

      • Chad Butler


        That’s what I’ve been concluded after a lot of thought. And as I think about it more, I really feel that their destiny was already predetermined, and all the events that led up to the final killings were going to happen that way. Everything we THINK we are doing to avoid a future mishap have already been recorded in Gods book. I believe your destiny is your destiny.

      • Taylor Holmes

        I think you are onto something there. Kinda like Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys… the whole movie is all about fixing the problem of the coming (already come, whatever) armageddon unleashed by the army of the 12 monkeys. Right? But the timeline is already locked in and determined like you said. They THOUGHT they would be able to change time and solve the problems that lead up to it (spoiler alert) but in the end they weren’t able to do anything but guarantee the same out come. So I think Bradley King is probably snickering a bit when he answered my questions – but he still fully thought that the timeline was what it was supposed to be… right? hahah. Yeah, I think you are probably right Chad.

  22. Mike C.

    Enjoyed the write up, but I think it is important to remember that the machine was an experiment to see if it could predict the future. If either the 8 pm or 8 am photos turned out to be incorrect for any reason, the conclusion to be drawn is that the machine does not in fact have 100% accuracy in predicting the future. That simple. It does not mean you can send photos to yourself in the past or create new timelines. Nothing the machine does insinuates it has that power. It is only an attempt to predict what will be in the purview of the photograph for whatever future time the machine is set to.

    The inventor only tested the machine on subjects that didn’t know about the machine or the picture. And it presumably proved to be 100% accurate. Once he misinterpreted a picture to be about himself, he attempted to “change the future” but admitted he didn’t know what effect, if any, he would have. Turned out he had no effect on the accuracy of the picture. Then of course the people the machine was focused on discovered the machine, and we again found out even knowledge of the picture did not change a single picture. Then finally Callie attempted to “change the future” by hanging the final picture on the window in an attempt to hopefully warn some version of her past self, but of course, this failed to change anything in the picture either.

    The machine was 100% accurate in all scenarios no matter what the characters did, thought or attempted to change. There was no going back in time or making new dimensions/timelines happening at all.

    • Taylor Holmes

      Hey Mike,
      Yeah – when I talked with Bradley King (link here: http://taylorholmes.com/2015/05/15/interview-with-time-lapse-director-bradley-king/) I asked him specifically this question and he answered it from the perspective of the three characters (which was clever I might add.) He said, “When I get asked this at Q&A sessions my usual answer is, “I don’t know, is it possible?”. It’s clear that by the end, the characters themselves are split on this. In spite of Heidecker’s explanation, Jasper obviously believes there is no way to alter the photos. Finn seems to have come around to the possibility that things can be altered, but only out of desperation, and it seems to me that when he packs that suitcase he’s still not 100% sure what might happen. And then of course (spoiler here) Callie obviously is convinced that things can be changed, which probably came out of her experience of doing things behind the scenes and feeling a sense of empowerment from that. But who’s right? I think the question is definitely more interesting than any answer I could give. In my own imagination I have definitely explored both ways, and both are interesting.”

      But I agree with you, that from the perspective not of the characters, but that of the audience, that we are in a much more deterministic flow. We are shown that Callie has the skinny on how exactly the machine is working, and yet, she is the one that is most worked over by the inevitability of the timeline. Theoretically I believe time is changing – maybe – somewhere, or somewhen rather.

  23. Ryan

    Great article but I think you missed something that was my favorite part of the movie…. The paintings. When he doesn’t have the pictures to tell him what to paint, he just sits there staring at a blank canvas doing nothing. Painting nothing. But when he knows what he’s going to paint he lives and does things that the painting becomes. A great example is the painting that’s there when they are in the car. He painted the rear view mirror of the car that Finn and his gf where in having a moment together. He kept saying that he doesn’t know his inspiration until he sees the picture, when all he had to do was live his life with his woman. In the earlier pictures on the wall of them in love, when he reflects on how great things were, he always had a painting in progress.

    In conclusion he was influenced by her for his paintings just like she influenced him with the 8am photos for his actions. I think that was the biggest clue to the ending the whole time right in front of our faces.

    • Ryan

      Went back and checked in on them….here we go!

      1. Blank canvas – beginning of the movie – just like at the party where he gets the distant stare away from CALLIE he has here too. Staring at the blank canvas as his relationship suffers, so does his paintings. During the party this causes her to go to jasper (foreshadowing on the future explanations of past cheating.)

      2. Painting 1 – Mail – Callie says she will pay the bills and it directly shows the same envelope she drops in the box as in the painting. First sign that not only is she a muse, but for something as simple and stupid as painting mail, she has strong control over Finns actions and inspirations.

      3. Painting 2 – Callie in red dress – barely seen for a second and not in a future photo. The painting is of her in the red dress and it’s VERY WELL PAINTED (more on how well the paintings are done as we progress)

      4. Painting 3 – the downward spiral, bottle of booze and time – again he gets lost in his painting and it shows. Because he is disconnected from her. The spiral downward reflects how she made him feel that she is going to kiss jasper. The booze signifies when he was passed out during charade night and they were having sex at the window. Here they are kissing at the window. Drunk before, painting booze this time. More foreshadowing of the future knowledge of the past (hence the clock numbers)

      5. Painting 4 – car rear view mirror – they are away from jasper and reconnect closer when he is away. It also has colorful orbs which to me signifies love. He is getting back in touch again with his muse.

      6. Painting 5 – her on the couch – again, jasper is away and they connect even more. Throughout the movie jasper berates him about not being good at art and making something of it and being stuck as a janitor. While Callie buys him new paintbrushes and the ones he likes and makes him dinner and cleans up the blood for him. She does everything for him all while jasper drags him down. When he doesn’t stand up to the mobsters, this is when she starts turning on Finn. Because he won’t step up for her. “Don’t forgive Finn” this time. She is always influencing him to be better and this is why I think the paintings are clues to the ending where she is using the machine to make them better as a couple.

      7. Painting 6 – the skull – her Actions are going to kill them all but not just hers…. Finns lack of confidence as well as he asks jasper to take a copy of the picture so he can paint. He now thinks it’s the machine that influences him and not Callie. This is also when he doesn’t stand up for her and everything goes crazy with jasper.

      8. Reflection at mr. B’s place – Finn finally realizes by looking at the photos that she was his muse all along. The first painting while they are on the couch is small and it sucks! The second one in a more intimate moment is of a face and is way better. Callie has been influencing him to be better. I also think that during this time jasper didn’t live with them. Does he just sleep on the couch being a mooch and dragging them down? Also, when Finn finally realizes this jasper hits him and drags him back down so he can bang his girlfriend.

      Jasper is the true antagonist here against Callie and Finn. All Callie wants is for Finn to notice her like he used to. Why else would she screw jasper in front of him while he’s passed out and with the drapes open! I hate cheaters but Callie is the good guy here. Finn didn’t listen to her when she was explaining why she did it and pushed her away and led to his demise. By the end Callie was crazy, but she was doing it out of love and to try to keep her boyfriend and to be like it used to be before jasper came into the picture.

      Callie is the architect of the whole movie in more ways than one.

      • Ryan

        To me the movie signifies not living in the moment. They all have shit lives. Jasper is a drug addict and gambles and has no future so he doesn’t count. He’s the foil. But Callie and Finn are both aspiring to be better. He wants to paint and instead is stuck as a shit janitor. She wants to write but is stuck waiting tables. What brought them together (their dreams) has faded into a mediocre life and they are suffering for it in their relationship for it. Them not knowing what the future holds prevents them from enjoying each other in the present. This is why Callie uses the pictures to influence the present. So they can live their lives in the present like they did in the past. This movie is less about time travel and more about that. The fading of a relationship due to neglecting and taking each other for granted.

        I promise this is my last comment tonight. Lol

      • Gabi


        Your comment about the paintings really opened my eyes for a bigger picture of the movie. Thank you so much for that. I would never have related the paintings to their relationship if I hadn’t read your comment.

      • Reckless

        But Callie didn’t know the machine was taking photos when she was cheating on Finn. It happened months before they found out about it

  24. cat303

    Finn and Callie were a couple, not Jasper and Callie! That’s why she hides the photos which show her having an affair with Jasper. Unless the film has completely changed from when you saw it I can’t take on board anything you say!

    • Shelby

      He switches the names up in the beginning but if you kept reading past the overview, he uses the correct names in the remainder of the explanation. I hope a silly mistake didn’t stop you from reading a well-thought-out analysis…

  25. Andrew

    I just watched the movie so here is my theory which may or may not be correct. Callie is able to affect the timeline that occurs 36 hours in the future as once the group sees the 8 pm photo, they are locked in for the next 24 hrs.

    For example, when the Track photo was taken and the Kiss photo was printed out, Callie, Finn, and Jasper were already locked into doing the Kiss photo 24 hrs from now. She had to have sent herself a message 12 hrs before (8 am) the Track photo was taken so she knows to “Kiss Jasper for too long”.

    In terms of timelines, I think there are many potential timeline branches where one option is following/acting on the photo and the other option is not following the photo. The machine is taking pictures of an alternative timeline/dimension and Jasper, Callie, and Finn can choose to follow or not follow the photo. The movie just shows the timeline where they follow all the photos that were printed. The other timelines, such as when they follow the photos sometimes or do not follow the photos at all, the movie does not show those timelines. Ultimately, because they followed every photo that the machine printed out, the timeline ended with Finn and Jasper dead and Callie in jail. Ironically this was all started because Mr. B chose to follow/act on the photo he saw two weeks before which kicked off all these events. There is probably a timeline where he did not act on the photo and this movie never took place.

    My two cents.

  26. jim

    Just a thought about how different participants see the same things, differently.
    1. What if Callie doesn’t think she can write the future, but instead, fix the mistakes of the present. From her perspective, she isn’t “publishing” future sport wagering outcomes. She is repairing mistakes made by herself and the characters for a personally acceptable present time. Once a day, she gets a second chance, a do over. But she operates in what most scientific experiments strive for: a completely Closed System, where you control all variables. The Callie world is set up almost like that, with all happening in just two places, two apartments. But it isn’t a controlled environment. The outside world will often stumble in, and send the predestined future flying off in any number of unexpected directions.
    2. Callie makes quite a leap of faith, from the very beginning. She has to consciously accept and decide that she can repair the present, with nothing more than a few simple, Memento style, messages, she sends to herself. She doesn’t know exactly why she is instructed to do things. She just has to do them to create a better acceptable present outcome. yes?

    • jim

      3. Do they really need to pose and take photos of what they already have in hand? The machine was producing 24 hr ahead pictures of what they would do, long before they discovered the camera machine.
      They deduce that they have to duplicate the picture or it won’t come true. That becomes their own logic.
      They accept the current picture as the future, and then try to fulfill or alter it. But the machine just takes another 24 hr ahead picture, based on whatever they do up to that point? This is not predestination, it’s Chess.

  27. RWD

    Sorry if this has been covered, but one of my main problems with the film is the fact that they felt compelled to look at the photos, surely if they just ignored them they would be doing the correct thing anyway when 8pm/8am came around because of the whole “can’t change time” thing, then they don’t have to worry about interpreting how they should get into that situation (although this assumes that they no longer want to use the machine for selfish reasons).

    The other issue I have seems more mundane but what on earth were Jasper and Callie doing having sex at 8pm in a room that faces the street with the blinds open? What kind of mental charades night are they having that Finn is already passed out on the couch?

    • Guest

      They felt compelled to look at the pictures because each of them were still using them to benefit in some way. The movie only takes place over a 2 week time period so it’s safe to assume that’s not enough time to get the greed out of their system. Plus, once they killed those 2 thugs, part of it was to see if any other dangers were in their future. It’s one of the reasons Jasper didn’t want to leave. If he saw himself in the picture, he would know he survived. If he didn’t, then he would make an escape to try to change the future. He’s pretty set on the idea that they shouldn’t mess with time.

      As for the affair, they were probably on drugs and didn’t think to close the blinds.

      One thing I questioned was when Jasper saw the picture of the affair, shouldn’t he have known it was taken before they even knew about the time machine instead of thinking that’s what was bound to happen the next night? He should’ve known something was wrong, right?

      • RWD

        yeah I guess what I really meant about the compulsion was that not looking at them was never proposed as a viable option which it definitely should have been (e.g. after Calli draws the figure showing what might happen if they deviate from the photo). that said, they did all have reasons for wanting to see the photos.

        as for the affair, it’s taking place at 8pm – is Finn narcoleptic?! Plus the old dude could have warned them to shut their blinds :P

        agreed about Jasper, although he was always on something so i wouldn’t necessarily expect him to notice, especially as he’s careless enough to use only one bookie to make his bets

  28. Jim

    The film fails from the start because the lens only takes images 24 hours ahead of time, it does not take real time images. If Callie were standing in front of the camera with a sign the lens would not pick up her image, it would pick up the next day’s image! Since Callie does not possess the ability to actually travel through time she will always be 24 hours behind. It’s a nice concept but it just doesn’t work for that reason alone.

    • Guest

      No, it would pick up her image but send it to the past where her past self would see it and act accordingly. The picture that comes out of the camera is from the future so it’s not spitting out the picture it just took.

  29. Mike

    I, too, have had problems understanding how the characters are able to benefit from these photos and am a little frustrated by the pat explanations being offered. I basically enjoyed the movie and found elements, such as Callie’s manipulations and the implications of the photo that the scientist sent to his colleague, really cool. But I still find problems with characters being in the know of conditions that would (I think) be occurring on disparate planes. Here’s my thinking:

    If I were to receive a photo of my TV screen showing that Djokovic has beaten Federer, I might be like, “That’s weird. That match hasn’t happened yet.” I may trust the photo and bet on Djokovic, find the photo was correct, and continue benefiting from its insights. However, that iteration of myself could not be in communication with the iteration of myself who is acting as the vehicle of my fortune—not without a time machine. So, back to the movie: There must be an iteration of the characters first encountering the machine, seeing the initial gambling results posted to their living room window, and being like, “What is this?” Maybe they’ll go ahead and place the bets and find that the picture is telling the future, and maybe from here, they will continue to emulate the daily photo and/or begin posting messages for the profit of “later” iterations of themselves. In this sense, the iterations of themselves on a more temporally advanced plane will continue to benefit the iterations on a later plane, and an endless ripple of these transactions will transpire. I could deal with this scenario. However, in the movie, the characters are acting as both prognosticator and beneficiary. A case in point: They can’t be both the ones to initially discover the mystery camera (i.e., the ones to find the fallen coat hanger photo) and the ones to profit from the initial betting results. This would imply that the various iterations of themselves have awareness of one another’s existence and actions. This is mind-bending in what I consider an illogical and damning way. At this point, the only way to save the scenario is to introduce time travel, which I see no reason to believe is a component of this story.

    • Guest

      If they decide more than 24h ahead that they will perform an action then (within the realm of the film) it is plausible that the photo will show them doing the action that they had already had the plan to do.

      if the photo shows anything different it just means something prevented them for that time from performing the intended action.

      • Mike

        That’s how I was interpreting the premise until we learned of Callie’s manipulations, which seems to require a totally different line of reasoning. I must accept my intellectual shortcomings and stop thinking about this.

    • Gabi

      That’s what’s been bugging me and I think it can be considered a flaw in the movie because I don’t see how one timeline can connect to another timeline taking place in another plane, if that makes any sense.

  30. Taylor Holmes

    Too many people are wandering around confused in the comments section. So I redid the timeline portion of the explanation in order to show how the Callie could be walking the cat back from the beginning to the end if she wanted to.

    Yes, we do not know if it is working, because we are stuck in the current timeline, which is now just a cast away ripple. The main timeline could have been changed though for the better if the photos are being sent backwards from Day 5 – 8:00 pm to Day 4 – 8:00 pm to Day 5 – 8:00 am to Day 4 – 8:00 am to Day 4 – 8:00 pm to Day 3 – 8:00 pm to Day 4 – 8:00 am to Day 3 – 8:00 am to Day 3 – 8:00 pm to Day 2 – 8:00 pm… etc etc. Right?

    Most time travel movies follow the intended impact or change through. But this movie does not. It allows the future to comment in to the present and then we are dealing with the ramifications, and then we get a new message from the future etc. Callie obviously believes she’s effectively changing the past elsewhere. And it makes sense that she could. But its almost irrelevant, because our vantage is decidedly stuck on the present as we flow forward. No?

    So check out the new diagrams I sketched and tell me if I’m smoking crack.

  31. Richard

    Fucked up movie n you are trying to explain a fucked up movie by using fucked up diagrams. Hated the movie n your explanation even more. How would I even know which horse is going to win in the first place, to pose with that paper? It’s not a movie about going to future to find results n telling those results to yourself today. Fucked up is what it is. I think losers think it’s cool to say it’s an awesome movie when they xanubderstand shit about it.

    • Heisenblergh

      Richard – well then … you seem like an incredibly well-balanced and kind person.

      • Taylor

        I’m sorry, but that had me laughing out loud. Like, literally, in a conference room – waiting for a meeting to start… Laughing. Not so much laughing, but guffawing! It was loud. Thanks for starting my day off so well Mr. Heisenblergh.

    • Taylor

      If the paper had stayed on the window, I believe it would have saved Finn’s life in a previous (previous, or would it be future?!) timeline. Right?

  32. Deborah

    I agree with those that think that Callie was dead wrong. There is no time travel in this movie, only prophecy. It is a greek tragedy, exactly in the manner of Oedipus. The prophecies are infallible and self-fulfilling, just as prophecies have been since Oedipus. Take Mr. B. He tried to avoid his death, thus causing it, only in a manner that he did not expect. The misunderstanding of a prophecy or an attempt to avoid it can frequently be the means by which it self-fulfills, just as considering it inevitable and doing what must be done to make it so will also fulfill it. It does not matter which way you believe. Once prophesied, it will happen. It will happen because of who the people are and the decisions that that type of person will surely make. Given how prophesy seems to trap in this way wouldn’t it have been better if the three never found the camera? Ridiculous question – they always will have found the camera. Before Mr. B died they were going to find the camera, or there would never have been a green swirl thing to cause his death. The moment when Finn realizes he was always going to paint the green swirl, that he had caused (was currently retroactively causing) all their troubles seems like a moment that he could change it. But he couldn’t. Even if it is because he didn’t believe he could, he was always going to not believe he could in that moment, or he would never have been in that moment.

  33. Tivep

    The movie was fantastic when it came to handling the time paradoxes and the causal loops in general. The movie was terrible when it came to handling the characters in the plot. Each of them were regular people, with regular lived and turn out to be stone cold killers in a week’s time. Great post BTW

  34. Aaron

    “There is no way she could possible know that since she does not time-travel per se”…

    Assuming that she can leave herself notes and alter her past self’s actions, which in turn would lead to altering the present (because the past leads to the present), wouldn’t her present self not remember the past that she had stopped from happening? Perhaps this is what happens in the movie, and she in fact never experienced any other past once she altered it.

    I also wonder what her experience would be like when her present corrects herself after her past self see her present self’s message. I suppose she wouldn’t go insane with time-related schizophrenia (like Roland in the Dark Tower where two things are true at once) if the rewritten past simply ceased to have ever existed. There would only be one truth, which would be the post-message timeline.

    Side note: This stuff is really difficult to write about without defining terms and such. Ugh.

    Anywho, it’s a fun movie with lots of food for (somewhat frustrating) thought. Thanks for diagramming it all out so I didn’t have to! I’m interested in all y’allz thoughts.

  35. Zane

    Great website and convo. I have read all the comments!

    Q: If the main photo of them cheating was a month old, then why didn’t Jasper notice that? <the excuse that he is a druggie doesn't work because of how dramatic the scenario is. i.e. "I forgot we had sex with open drapes as your bf slept on the sofa beside us". <Also, chances are that Jasper gave Finn a "sleeping aid". He would have had to be cognizant to do that <Also also, this would have had to be the case because if they were all on the party drug, it would have been impossible for Finn to have fallen asleep. Jasper obviously slipped him something different. Drinking alcohol doesn’t make sense here because it is not in Finn’s character to suddenly drink way more than the others and because hello, Jasper is a drug dealer, it just doesn’t make sense. Must be a plot hole.

    Further Relevance and THEORY: What Callie did is totally fucked up. She cheated on Finn multiple times, with his best friend, even in front of his passed out body because…he wasn't giving her enough attention? WTF. Wait a minute. Doesn't her entrance scene have Finn caring enough/noticing enough to ask her if she was able to purchase her journal from the store? Also, he literally had a ring he was planning on giving her.

    This is important for 2 reasons. 1: It means that she doesn't really love Finn. Come on now. What, her subconscious was hoping that if she were to get caught fucking Jasper, that Finn would realize her worth and propose right away? This logic makes no sense. The act disqualifies the relationship; it doesn’t help it. Sidenote: Finn kept apologizing to Callie about being mad that she made out with Jasper for too long? Why the hell would he do that? She is in the wrong!

    Anyway, if Callie doesn't love Finn, then her whole motivation for manipulating the timeline doesn't really make sense. She explained that she acted the way she did only because it would allow her to better their relationship. You can argue twisted logic but the girl isn't crazy to begin with.

    I like my Theory best: The Polaroid Machine was evil. It was causing people to enter a self-fulfilling prophecy of despair that it itself altered. It made the DR think he would die…because Fin would never have drawn that Wire on his own. It fed into Jasper’s greed and more importantly, his rage for superiority. This explains why he went from an afraid dude to a very aggressive gangster killer type. The machine also made Callie go crazy by giving her an opportunity to manipulate the boys. This caused her to get caught by Finn, kill him, and then go to prison. If there were no pics of her future self and just normal pics of the past (her cheating with Jasper), she could have just trashed those pics. Instead, the machine blackmails her with the power to control the future more closely.

    • Taylor Holmes

      Really fast, because I’m late to a meeting…
      I’m confused. The reason Finn doesn’t know is because Callie took the photos down. You mean, just, forget the machine? Why doesn’t he know? He doesn’t know because he doesn’t want to know! hahah. That’s the way it works sometimes. But regardless, she took those specific photos down, and he even mentioned some of the missing polaroids.

      As for the machine being evil… I disagree. Sort of. I think the people were evil. And the machine just empowered it. You said it yourself, Callie didn’t love him. She was straight up sleeping around on Finn. Right? And THEN they get access to the machine. Unless you are saying that once the Dr. started using the machine it changed them? Is that what you are implying? If so, I have no evidence to disagree with you there. Except that the movie ended badly because these are bad people. End of story! hahah.

      Thanks for the comment. Love this movie.

      • andyprime

        i think you misunderstood his first question. He was asking why Jasper didnt recognize the photo of him and callie sleeping with each other once they saw that photo. The only reason Jasper doesnt kill Finn is because he thinks he needs him for the photo.

  36. Alex Krasny

    Cool explanation… I was about to disagree with you, but I suppose if both writers have confirmed, what ground do I have?

    I must admit I lost some sleep trying to figure this out… I was imagining what was going on with the first photo Callie ever saw (which must have been quite jarring and I am shocked she was able to maintain her composure). It was a photo of her standing at the window with the message “knock coat rack over” & “Hide last weeks daytime photos.”

    Why these messages? Hiding the daytime photos makes sense. It would shield the concept of two photos a day from the boys. But why knock over the coat rack? After a considerable amount of thinking I realized if she didn’t knock it down then the 8pm photo would simply look like a regular living room and wouldn’t hint at the future concept and they might overlook the entire thing… interesting. Obviously that could not have been the case because if they had ever overlooked it, the whole plot never would have triggered… Ugh

    Let’s just take 1 example “Kiss Jasper too long.” and help me comprehend it. Let’s call the kissing night NIGHT A.

    On pre-NIGHT A they get a 8pm photo of Jasper/Callie kissing. NIGHT A they act it out in a ‘standard sense’ (callie does not kiss “too long”) and Finn’s reaction is slightly jealous but not so bad. Callie has an idea. What if she kissed Jasper too long? So the next morning post-NIGHT A she leaves her previous self a note “kiss Jasper too long.” Altering the timeline of the previous night because now she kissed too long? Is that right?

    • Taylor Holmes

      Hey there Alex,
      First off… never, ever, let the authors of a project dissuade you as to a truth you believe. Doggedly chase that idea down regardless of the credibility or veracity of the people challenging your idea or theory. That is all I do here on this blog. I regularly argue with the creators and tell them they are wrong! hahah. As an example, I’m CERTAIN the movie Coherence (which you should see if you haven’t already Alex) is a time travel movie, not a parallel universe movie. But the author, director, and all around good guy, James Byrkit, has told me over, and over and over again I’m wrong. hahah. Whatever. So, I would love to hear your ideas on how I’m wrong. Trust me, I’ve been wrong plenty of times before.

      So to your question. Which I like actually. It assumes something that I hadn’t really thought through before. I had assumed that the entirety of the movie was one long A-run at the timelines. And that is why it ultimately fails. Right? The paper falls off the window. Everyone dies. She goes to jail. Right? It has to be all the A-runs (as opposed to the second, third or fourth tries at a decision.) no?!? But I think you are right. We see examples of changes that had to have been made. We see the outcome of the decision for Callie to tell herself… to do something, but not the why. She had to have seen something, known it would go better if changed, and then react to that by telling herself to change it. Your two examples are perfect. I too assumed that the coat rack was specifically to mark the time clearly as changed. But we never see her go… BUT THEY DIDN’T REALIZE WHAT THE MACHINE WAS! Right? And we also never see her give Jasper a small kiss… specifically, a too small kiss.

      The contra-argument here could be, she just made good guesses though. Right? She has time to consider the fact that the pm photo is coming, and she needs to do something. She has time to consider the jealousy thing, and she is just telling herself her best guess at how to play the situation. No? But I like your thoughts on how some of the decisions could be made correctly, and some not… some have been perfected… and some have not. And that is why the ending moment is so critical. It’s like watching Live Die Repeat, or The Day After Tomorrow, or All You Need Is Kill… or whatever you want to call it. When you see them try and try and try again to dial in the exactly correct sequence to get across the battlefield. If we ended that movie half way, I think we’d be here… where we are with this movie’s ending. Personally. Except, the situation then becomes out of Callie’s hands and she is now locked in a sub-optimal slice of time.

      Interesting. Thanks for the thoughts amigo. And make sure you go see Coherence and then come back and comment. Love to hear your thoughts there as well.

  37. BBb

    well, I know I’m kinda late. I just saw the movie today and it really is a bit confusing.
    Well, I won’t blow my mind on that cuz I know I’m gonna have a strong headache. But, something that I realized is that this movie is like monority report, which likely says is that, no matter what you do to change the future after seeing it, you’ll always end up like what you saw in the future. The future is unchangeable.

    p.s- Never f k with time ;)

  38. Freshmaker

    One thing that I ponder about is what about the very first photo ever taken after the machine is first built? If the machine didnt exist before the 1st photo, where would the snapshot go? The picture cant be printed because the machine doesn’t exist yet! The machine takes a photo and sends it to the past.

    Also what happens when the cops find the machine? A whole world of convoluted possibilities opens up.

    And if the cops destroy the machine, the very last photo would be of what is taken 24 hours later, but the machine will already destroyed so it can’t take the photo. I guess you have to suspend disbelief on that one. Time travel movies will always have plot holes and you have to take them at face value and not add anymore meaning than the writers intended.

  39. Todd

    I loved reading this article and all the comments. Excellent insights! One thing about this movie that I found interesting is that the camera was always accurate, and nothing they did “changed” the picture. This was demonstrated very early in the film, as they were trying to pose for the first time. In the picture that they’ve seen, Finn is pointing at something with his paint brush. When he tries to pose for the picture, it seems that he forgets about this part of the pose but at the last second something catches his attention and he inadvertently does it anyway. In this sense, the camera was never “predicting” the future, it was simply capturing the events as they unfolded.

    Essentially, this meant that all of their actions were meaningless in changing the future (even Callie’s). It was therefore impossible for her to fix the disaster she created at the end, because the camera already knew that she had failed to do so (police tape). This all assumes a rather linear sequence of events, which is how I feel they were portrayed in the film.

    Anyhow, I’m sure that was a lot of rambling about nothing. I just love this kind of film (especially when it’s just a random Netflix discovery). Time Lapse in particular I feel is more approachable than many time travel films (I’m looking at you, Primer), but it’s complex enough to have these sorts of discussions.

  40. andyprime

    great movie! thx for recommending it! i read your synchronicity post and you mentioned it there which is why i watched it.

    i’m still wrapping my head around it but your detailed explanation and the comments here have been very helpful!

    one thing i noticed that they never further explored is the scene where finn is holding the bucket of water over the camera and then notices something on the bottom of the camera. what does he see and how is it relevant to the story? it’s a deliberately placed scene but nothing is explained there. anyone have any thoughts?

  41. Bender

    While I enjoyed the movie, it really irked me that Callie (apparently) didn’t try to make any changes to prevent the bookie from finding out about the machine. The photos at the end clearly indicate she had made changes in the past (Otherwise most of her morning pictures/notes would be completely pointless; Her last pic even indicated Jasper had killed Finn), and with some detailed notes she could make changes all the way back to the first day she found the machine; With a bit of experimentation/manipulation she could have kept knowledge of the machine between her and Finn, or even all to herself. And she opens the door for the cop? Really?
    If I’m missing something please clue me in.
    I think Zane had the most logical explanation when he said the machine is “evil”. Although I don’t really believe in “good/evil”. Perhaps it impairs your mental faculties to do its bidding.

  42. Je Nas

    To my mind there is one fact that settles the matter: there was no altering of the past. The fact is simply this: the first photo, viewed by Mr. B one week before Callie encounters the machine, comes out perfectly true in the end. That means all the events leading up to that scenario (blood, painting of the green tube) were unaltered along the way. For if Callie had changed something — say, turned a purported previously short kiss into the long one that we see — then the chain of events culminating in “blood, green tube” would have been broked. Nor would have been possible for Callie to have altered the very way in which Mr. B was led to die in the first place, for such a change would mean altering the fundamental trigger of the whole thing. (Sorry for bad english)

  43. Jim

    I think the Callie at the end of the movie (where the note dropped to the floor) was always going to go to jail, even if she had succeeded in posting the note for the camera to take a picture of later that day for the night before. The reason being that the Callie that would have seen the picture with the note yesterday and corrected the situation was not the Callie of today but another Callie from a different time-line… if that makes sense. Otherwise what would happen to the Callie of today? Would she just disappear? If so then when exactly would she disappear?

    • Taylor Holmes

      Yes Jim,
      You are correct. This Callie… the one we have been trailing throughout the duration of the movie, was always going to jail. There were probably ones before, and then there would be ones after potentially if the option had been given. My timelines were complex to understand, but I dealt with that specifically. The sharding of time as a result of the upstream implications of the different timelines reacting differently.

      This movie is not a time traveling movie. This movie though is a time changing movie. We just happen to follow one version through the threads.


  44. cliff

    Hey jim. we may never see our comments again but you touched on what I thought was the most obvious factor to all of this. Each event altered by Callies manipulation created a new time line of destined events, at least up to the time that the next days picture presents. Like in the sketches you have the recursion and each recursion stays true up to the time the future self decides to split the future into a different direction via the past self. I guess each time she messaged herself to do things differently time would split from the original path and create a new parallel path or dimension? I don’t know how she was okay with this concept. Two things would happen. Either a: she goes to jail and her soon to be parallel time line self avoids this fate and in which case callie in the original time line never achieves her goals, reaps the fruit of her labor, but hopes that another version of her will or b: once the past self deviates from the former predestined path and creates a new then the original future callie and the rest of that time line ceases to exist and then future callie herself still never achieves her goal, she becomes nothing, never to have happened and past callie now gets the results. Doesn’t seem too beneficial to me. I guess all I can say is, meh, women and their blind emotions.

  45. Shelby

    For some reason I wasn’t confused at all by this movie and really enjoyed it. I do like the debate of “can she change the past/timeline or not?”

    A really interesting perspective that at least one other commenter mentioned is that Callie likely became mentally unstable (delusions) that she could somehow change the past and fix “mistakes.” I like this theory, since the power of seeing the future affected all of their abilities to think clearly and to make rational decisions. Callie hid her obsession from us but that’s what makes her the most unsettling character. She was OBSESSED with Finn yet had been cheating on him and used Jasper in her sick game. Jasper seemed to lose control of his ability to make rational choices in all aspects (this was on the surface so everyone could tell) but Callie made calculated, manipulative decisions and just acted the part of an innocent person. She’s the diabolical one to me (though both she and Jasper are pretty evil by the end).

    However, let’s say for a minute that we do believe Callie. That means up until that final scene is the end result of all her fixes. In other words, she has been editing every day to what she wants it to be in terms of perfecting her relationship with Finn. So for this scene, as we are watching her explain to Finn what she’s been doing (IF WE BELIEVE SHE’S RIGHT AND NOT AN INSANE PERSON), we are to assume that this is the first time she has experienced this specific day and time. That is to say, she hasn’t edited this point in time yet. The catch is that since the note falls before the image is captured, this is not just the first but also the last time she experiences this specific point in time. So if she was changing other situations, we only saw the end result. In this scene for those who believed that she can control the situation, they experienced her realizing a mistake was made and being unable to fix it, In other words, it’s live. And it’s final. What a great twist of the knife, and she did it to herself. I’d like to think she was capable of changing things just because that final moment is that much more twisted and unsettling.

    Though the truth is I don’t think she could actually go back and fix things. There’s a story I heard once that I may butcher but basically it’s a couple who finds out their unborn child will one day grow up to be Hitler. To avoid this, they swap babies with someone else or maybe just kill their baby? I don’t remember, but the point is they steal or adopt a different baby instead, and then that child is the one who grows up to become Hitler. So in their attempt to avoid parenting a genocidal maniac, they ended up parenting a genocidal maniac. In this movie I believe they were always going to find the camera, and eventually she would kill them both and be carted off to prison. What a great, twisted story!

  46. Jim

    I do think that every timeline had its consequences and went on its merry way (good or bad), so changing the future by posting on the window, looking at the pictures, etc, was only for the benefit of the next time line, not the present.

  47. Stacy

    My take away from the film was that everything happened, it already happened and try as you might you can’t change it. No matter what she puts up in the window, whatever the camera gets, that is what happens. Since the already had the 8pm picture- with no ‘don’t get caught in the window’ sign- that is what happened. She tried to change it, she failed, because you can’t change things.

    She wasn’t changing things she got wrong, she was telling herself what she did that day, to do it again. Every timeline was exactly the same. I don’t see any instances where she CHANGED anything. Just like (for example) she takes all the pictures, then goes and tells herself to take all the pictures, like she just did. She kisses him too long, sees the result she wants, then goes and tells herself to do it. So the current her gets the picture and follows it, kisses him too long, then tells herself to do it. I don’t see any situation where she DIDN’T kiss him too long. Because she was told to do that before she ever did it. The picture always comes to her first.

  48. darnell

    This film was amazing, exasperating, exhilarating and confounding.
    The comments and this page helped a great deal for understanding though.
    What i couldn’t get my ahead around is how Callie thinks she can undo killing finn.
    But then through these comments ive begun to understand things.

    The perspective is always on one timeline. Callie may have done shit to create the current timeline as well as adjustments, but we follow but we don’t see her do that apart from the photos that fall on the kitchen floor towards the end.

    She did have the power to change the future in the sense that it would change another callies future, but she was dumb to understand that it wouldn’t reset her own current timelines history.

    On why some earlier photos were missing or removed, that could be her hiding her fuck sessions with jasper.

    This is a long way of saying, the timeline we follow is predestined, but callie can change outcomes for other timelines.

    The timeline we follow is not even the A timeline because it had posters like “kiss jasper a little longer” at 8am meaning she kissed too short in another timeline and adjusted which had a hand in creating this one and only one that we follow.

    Is that correct? That’s the only way i can understand it.

    Callie’s problem is because she thinks that her timeline can manipulate events when she’s actually just doing what another Callie set out for her to do.

    We don’t see the time manipulating callie, we only see the manipulated callie.

    Which is a long way of saying, destiny is changeable but not in the timeline we’re viewing.

    • Taylor

      Hay there Darnell,
      Yes – I agree with you completely. She is predestined, as you put it. But her derivative timelines are not. Well said.


  49. Brandon

    Thanks for the analysis! My question is how can we assume that she thinks she can go change time? She says she was being pulled along just like all of them. And though I know she could just be saying that, there’s no evidence that time could be changed until they see the sex picture swapped with the crime scene one. But she knows she swapped it. So she would still think time is unchangeable. No?

    • Brandon

      I’d like to change the above to say that I know why we assume she thinks time can change. The final scene is all about her thinking it can change. But why would she think that? The only evidence of time changing was the swapped out pics. And she did it. In truth every picture came true and time was never changed. So why does she think she can change time?

      • Jaelyn

        I think that was her honestly losing her freaking mind. She felt empowered by all the manipulation. By her finding it first and understanding it before anyone else. I mean it turned her into an even more manipulative person, a KILLER, so she thought she could not only manipulate future, but manipulate past which is ridiculous. This film is about the future, and a machine that sees the future and possibly manipulating things to change the future or control it…. never going BACK in time. The picture machine can’t make Finn alive somehow. She lost her mind. I don’t know why people are taking this as a possibility.

  50. EL Ritter

    I watched this movie solely based on the recommendations here from reviews of movies I enjoyed, like Primer. I was not dissapointed. I always enjoy that question of time and causality.

    • Taylor Holmes

      Currently on my lunch break, and I’m building an actual page with all my approved movie recommendations that will be easy to review and consult when you are looking for something to watch. But you guys have to SHUSH on the comments for like long enough for me to get it done dangit! Hahaha. Glad you liked Time Lapse. Man I loved this movie. Such amazing goodness there.

  51. Jaelyn

    Hey Taylor, love your reviews.

    I have only question about this film. And out of allll the craziness in this film, this might seem like a stupid question lol. But I honestly understand all of it except ONE DAMN THING.

    For some reason THIS is bending my mind.

    How would Jasper get the racing bets? Because the picture machine isn’t spewing out pics of the newspaper. And if they hold up “yesterday’s” winners to bet on the next day—how does that help them? They will always be the winners of the day before. So they just bet on who won yesterday when they find out at 8pm? I really really have tried to figure this out. I’ve seen this film three times and each time, the races thing is what blows my mind into utter confusion. You see a horse wins at 8pm, take a picture of it. Bet on that horse THE NEXT DAY…… sooooo what? The same horses don’t win everyday. What is my brain missing here?

    • Taylor Holmes

      Hey there Jaelyn,
      Because I love you guys so much… hahaha… I popped open the movie again to think before I speak.

      So, the way it worked… is simple, you are just caught on the simple fact that this isn’t possible! Hahah. So let me run an outline for you walking you through how it happens:

      1. Finn leaves party to take a photo at the same time the machine goes off
      2. Compares photo from yesterday’s photo – they match
      3. Notices the new photo from tomorrow
      4. In the photo is the race results for the next day
      5. They play the ponies the next day
      6. So tomorrow they will need to remember to post the results photo so they will have it yesterday.

      When I spell it out like that does it make more sense?
      Sometimes I complicate things when I try to help, so who knows!

      • Christophe Fournier

        Jaelyn is correct. The camera has no way of knowing the results of the race or that this is what the group wants. It’s just taking pictures of the future.These bets still have to be made. I find it impossible to watch a movie based on a flawed premise.

    • Rick

      They are not holding yesterday’s winners . They are I assume holding up the winners for that day and the camera takes the picture and spits it out 24hrs before so when they se the picture they’d know what to bet on the next day.. only issue I have is the girls picture she put up at 8am that says don’t get caught taking the picture went thru so she shouldn’t of gotten caught ..there has to be multiple time lines .. she can’t change the present but they can change past causing different time lines ..and whenever they looked ATM a picture that came out the machine it made a new branching time line…so even if the note in the last picture stayed up she still would of still went to jail but another her that saw the new note that didn’t fall wouldn’t have

  52. The 20 Best Time Travel Movies Ever

    […] in that awesome movie. And a few months after that I discovered the clever little movie entitled Timelapse which introduced me to BP Cooper and Bradley King. It seems like every time I have a sewn up list, […]

  53. Nathan

    I prefer to look at it as the machine is the evil. It could have showed them whatever it wanted, and it chose to show them things that would eventually lead to their death And no matter what they do they can’t change the future. They all have destinys.

  54. kelwin

    I watched the movie yesterday, I was not much confused before the reading the comments..

  55. Matt

    Hey Taylor, as always, awesome review and discussion.

    First, I understand I’m several years late to the party, but I saw the movie for the first time recently and had to write in. I wanted to get your thoughts on something that doesn’t have to do with the specific aspects of “time changing” but more to do with the morality in the movie. This has caused a heated (albeit good-humoured) debate between myself and a friend.
    My friend was of the opinion that the “villain” of the movie (his words, not mine) was basically shared between Jasper, the bookie, and oddly enough, the camera itself. And I couldn’t disagree more.

    Of course, Jasper and the bookie were clearly reprehensible human beings, but I honestly thought that the truly twisted, almost sociopathic individual in the film was Callie. I’ll explain, and will try to do so as briefly as possible, this post is quickly becoming a novella.

    Callie’s transgressions predate the finding of the camera. Cheating is an awful thing to do and to do it repeatedly then telling your significant other you love them the next morning is heartless. Finn is absolutely wrong for becoming distant and neglectful. But, in that situation, the moral thing to do is for the person who feels neglected and mistreated to be an adult and end things with that individual before shacking up with someone else. Multiple times. And the fact that one of those times, she was riding a dude while her boyfriend was 10 feet away sleeping, is something only a heartless, unbelievably selfish person could do, and seemingly be ok with. Her acceptance of this behavior is the other reason I’ve label her the “bad guy.”

    She doesn’t see the cheating as all that egregious. She sees the fact that Finn found out to be the real problem. Things would be perfect and they would be together and presumably get married and she was totally fine with him never being aware of her multiple indiscretions. Did she love Finn? I think, but in a way that was different from what you or I might categorize as “love.” She loved the way he made her feel when he was as present in the relationship as she wanted him to be. She didn’t seem to be concerned all that much about HIS happiness, but operated under the assumption that her happiness was what was best for Finn as well. And all of this is made even more disturbing and devastating due to the fact that for the majority of the film, Callie seems to be the most genuine, caring, loving individual of the three.

    Her actions and lack of remorse were also an unpleasant reminder of the present day notion that seems to have been embraced by many that, cheating and infidelity is, in a way, just part of a relationship. In the same way that many people see moving in with a significant other as “the next step” in a serious relationship, cheating seems to be seen the same way. Just one of the many steps in an adult relationship. And that fact alone is tragic and sad.

    This is ridiculously long, and I apologize for that. If you ever get done reading it, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks so much, not just for indulging me, but for all the reviews and discussions you’ve posted over the years. This is always one of my first stops after I watch a film I’ve found complex and intriguing. Thanks again man.

    PS – To all the armchair psychologists, no this isn’t coming from a place of personal heartbreak. I’ve never cheated and have never been cheated on. And if I had been I’d just put up a new sign in my window, problem solved.

    • Taylor Holmes

      I don’t disagree, but as Shelby so eloquently stated, she’s a sociopath. She is outside the moral laws we all live and work under because she can. Which is exactly what you are espousing. She loves him, but would like it very much if she had never been caught in the first place. Which, now that you mention it, is the human condition… we just don’t have the power to time travel.

      So we agree that she is heartless wench that loves Finn in a truly sociopathic and immoral way… I think. Or something like that anyway. And thanks a ton for the kind words. Means the world. Comment more! That’s good stuff dang it.

  56. Shelby

    LOL the whole time I was reading your post I thought “I agree with him but I wonder why he cares this much…” so that last sentence made me actually laugh out loud. Good stuff.

    I definitely agree that she’s basically a sociopath.

    • Taylor Holmes

      I write all those words, all those details captured, and you come away with… she’s a sociopath?!? No no no no. She believes she is GOD! She got hooked on raising people from the dead and time traveling her problems away! Sociopathy has nothing to do with it. (Or, is that the definition of sociopathy? That someone believes themselves god? Huh. Nevermind. I think you got the gist of it now that I think about it.)

  57. kelwin

    Hello Homes sir,

    Have you any contact with writer or director? will they make a sequel of time-lapse or not?? because I have a story for a sequel which will add a twist in a sequel because some part is related to first, and I think people will like it… Reply must sir

  58. kelwin

    hello, homes,

    have you any contact with writer or director of the film, will they make a sequel of time-lapse. coz I have a story which is interesting and fit for the sequel.. reply must

  59. kelwin

    Sorry, I have some browser problem, I was unable to see my comments. now I changed my browser.

    I was thinking a story of time-lapse sequel, I don’t have full story but I have an idea or twist or starting which fit in a sequel. As we know people like sequel when the sequel has same theme or characters, but in the 1st part Jasper, Finn dead and Callie sent to jail..

    (we know in 1st part calie changed last night photo with sex photo and Jasper did not recognise this is an old photo.) But sequel of the story starts from where it will say that Jasper recognised sex photo but he sensed something wrong or doubt on calie so that time he did not act, whereas calie thinks Jasper did not recognise sex photo because he was in drink and drugs at that time, later Jasper caught calie’s 8.00am secret and those photos which she is hidding in kitchen so he makes a plan and manipulates remaining last part of story in which calie hit jasper by glass bottle and he died in 1st part (but he did not die according to sequel) and calie shot finn, so calie sent to jail murder of finn and other dead bodies in store room.

    only 1 character left Jasper with money and machine rest of story is on Jasper. I don’t think story after that now.

    But I think starting story is quite interesting, in a sequel if Jasper is alive according to my story it will not contradict with 1st part.

    Reply what do you think, is it cool or not??

  60. Ryissa

    So although what is and could be going on gets dizzying, I had this idea pop in my head and refuse to leave.

    The photos seem like the middle predictive text button on my phone. The characters assume because of the dire warning about messing with time they must act in conformity of what appears most likely to occur. But their awareness of the mechanism already means they are manipulating the outcome.

    But just like whether my phone thinks my most likely next word is “or” when I have in mind “that” my knowledge of its selection will influence what word I type. But if I blindly hit that most predictive word the message is far different.

    So we are told the machine is 100% accurate. But we have no idea what controls the scientist used to verrify that. If he never interfered with variables to see if a different result was possible how do we know. And let’s not wander over to if he did manage to change the outcome, would he even know when you’re observing a paradox in the first place.

    Case in point the friends have a less bizarre path while they are oblivious to being observed. But the original observer (the scientist) starts to meddle because of his faith that he is ultimately involved. We don’t know what he did/didn’t do but he he sets up conditions for subjects to become aware of being observed.

    So although there’s a bunch of fate / not fate here stuff. There’s also this question of when you are aware of the experiment and assuming you must conform to its rules, you are already skewing the results. They never tried to repeatedly challenge the predictive value of the photos by changing key variables. So their fates were dictated by assuming certain conditions were fixed, but the big question mark is how trapped were they really. Just by appearing on time for photos they increased the odds that the machine could not err.

    But if he doesn’t want you can get him a little later than you do he doesn’t know how he’s going on a trip. (Middle predictive button. Hahaha)

  61. Jack

    I dunno why, but the fact that she was cheating a lot on top of the manipulative crap she was doing kinda ruined the movie for me. Not completely ruined, just….I dunno, I’m not sure how to expalin it, sorry. Anyone else, or am I alone?

  62. Ryissa

    Jack –

    I agree with you. A lot of the twists in this movie felt forced in terms of how the writers brought them in. Whether that’s the professor’s colleague suddenly showing up or the girlfriend being revealed as being evil, there’s no subtlety in terms of introducing these things. I’m okay with having the girlfriend going from nice to bad, but I enjoy it more when there were enough clues about her true nature that I am surprised I didn’t see things coming. In this case it felt more like the fastest way to kill people off and end the movie.

    But for a small movie on a small budget it was still a fun ride.

  63. Simay

    Since I’m commenting I’ve been meaning to tell you this for a while now:
    Great review! And a-ma-zing website, we have very similar tastes so you make it very easy for me to find good movies (including time lapse) and after watching them I come here to read the reviews. So thank you.

    Now, I’m commenting because in one of the first few paragraphs you said ” Callie (Danielle Panabaker) and Jasper (George Finn) are dating and apparently Jasper may have missed his opportunity to propose.” and having just watched the movie it was Callie and Finn who were dating and Jasper was living with them for some reason.

    • Taylor Holmes

      Thanks Simay! I have a hard time with names!! Seriously. I’m always using incorrect names, switching characters around, constantly screwing stuff up! So, thanks for the help!! I get right on that.

  64. Alan

    Hi Taylor,
    I just saw this movie a few days ago and haven’t been able to stop thinking about all the possibilities. I found this site and have read all the comments and discussion, so many intriguing angles to understanding what was really happening and what was and was not possible. And your summary of the movie at the top was spot on.

    I have one problem with the plot that no one else has mentioned. When they first start getting the next day’s 8 PM photos, they show things that were logically to follow. Jasper decided to use it to get the previous day’s race results, and sure enough they get a photo with the results in the window. They were already planning to have a party and they get the exact party scene in that photo. But how to explain the photo of Callie and Jasper kissing while Finn is painting? The only reason this came to pass was because they saw the photo. If they were unaware of the camera, there is no logical reason that scene would have occurred. In the other 2 examples I gave, the scene captured in the next day’s photo came “first” – meaning that would have happened anyway, even if there were no camera or knowledge of the camera. But with the kissing scene, the photo came “first”, it is the only thing that led them to be in that position the next night.

    Any thoughts on this? It didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the movie, but it does seem to be something that needs some explanation. Of course the entire concept of the movie isn’t plausible to begin with, but everything else makes logical sense within that premise.

  65. Kam

    Thank you so much for this break down! I loved this movie the first time I saw it a year ago!! I loved how deluded Callie became at the end and how much the camera took over her life. My question is: Mr. B took a picture that said it was two weeks into the future, where were the rest of those photos? Did Callie over look that in order to prevent herself from getting caught by Big Joe? Just wondering, it’s a great movie no matter what. I always wanted to know what the last photo showed. Thank you again!!

  66. Sami

    Hey, thank you for the unique explanation about the story. I watched it just a day ago and searched a lot of sources. Finally ended up here with a lot of answers to my questions. Gotta read the interview too. Thanks Mr. Holmes. :)


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