That is the biggest cop out title I’ve ever written. And you want to know why? Because I just don’t know if I liked this movie or not. I love small budget movies that know they are small budget movies. What I decidedly do NOT like, are small budget films that don’t know that they are small budget films. You know exactly what I’m talking about. Those little films that found 50k in funding, and the screenplay has lines like this one in it:
EXT. DESERT FLOOR CAMP OF THE RESISTANCE
A spaceship that spans the horizon is slowly descending out of the blue sky as it comes to subjugate the population of earth.
That’s a lot of extra to actually make happen some how. Models. Wire removal. Heck, the CG work won’t even buy you the catering necessary with 50k. So why are you even trying? And Time Trap is a movie that sort of falls into this category, and yet, totally pulls it off. Surprisingly. I think I spent the entire movie willing it not to flop just because of its aspirational loftiness.
If you are still undecided on whether to watch this movie, it might be best to consider it an updated homage to the original 1960 Time Machine movie. If that sounds like a good time, check it out. I for one still am not 100% certain what I think of it. But let’s talk it through and I’ll decide as we go!
Quick Time Trap Walkthrough
Up front… I have to admit that I might not have paid very close attention to this particular movie as I watched. Normally I have a notepad out, and take copious notes. This time, I might just have assumed there was no way I was going to talk about it here as I watched. But the ending stuck the landing in such a way that I’m here talking to you about a movie that I’m not completely sure of all the details. So, for once, I am giving you guys – the whole of the internet – a chance to take a deep breath. To let some stuff go. Ok? And you, the interweb denizens, will be better for it afterwards.
With that said, Hopper (Andrew Wilson), a professorish sort of fellow, goes hunting for his missing family in the nearby mountains. But Hopper discovers a cave with an immobile cowboy further back in the cave. And as Hopper heads further in he goes missing himself. Soon after, a few of his students (I think?) pull together to go looking for him. And when they find some interesting caves to spelunk, tragedy strikes when Furby (Max Wright), a young member of their troop, dies. But after they begin watching the GoPro footage on his body, they start to realize that something weird is happening. Because in Furby’s video, they watch as a number of days slide by, but they had only been in the cave for a couple hours at most.
With the troop trapped, and unable to get out, things start to take stranger and stranger turns. They begin to realize that the natural light, coming in from the cave openings is pulsing, and they slowing come to the realization that it is the sun progressing through the sky that is causing the light to pulse. Which, would mean, that time in the cave has stopped corresponding with time outside the cave. And if the speed of the pulsing is any indication, days are going by in about two seconds inside the cave. Or something.
But they aren’t alone in the cave, someone else is in here. And that someone is actually what killed Furby. Eventually it becomes clear there are cavemen that are also trapped in the caves, along with a cowboy. (Can you say painfully iconic characters through history?) But eventually, one of the group makes it up to the top of the tunnel and the planet’s atmosphere is trashed, the world is a dirt apocalypse, and roiled with storms. And there, high in the sky is some sort of cosmic spaceship. And soon after, they realize the pulsing of sky isn’t the cycle of a day, but the cycle of the seasons.
And as the movie powers towards its conclusion, Taylor (played by Reiley McClendon) discovers Hopper further in the cave. And just a little bit further in, they see a cosmic scrum of different characters set in a frozen fight. What is going on here? Eventually, (jumping past tons of running and screaming through the cave passage ways) seven space men intercede and extract them out of the cave. And they wake, circling the earth, on the spaceship, ready to start on this new modern life.
Time Trap Mechanics Walkthrough
So the conceit here is simple… but beguiling unless it clicks. We are going to think about it like a manual transmission. Earth, the planet surface, is humming along in 5th gear, at 55 miles an hour. (Here in Colorado we roll at 75 mph, but we can discuss intrastate highway standards another day.) When they crossed the water/wavey boundary, they downshifted into fourth gear, and slowed to 45 mph. Time on the surface continued plowing along at 55, but down a layer things slowed. And when Hopper and Taylor noticed another layer below theirs, they witnessed that this layer was running in 3rd gear, and was running at 35 mph. The clutch of the water barrier keeps the different time-speed envelopes from shredding everything in its path. My analogy fell apart there in the end. But ultimately, we know that the top earth layer was at a second is a second. And the middle layer was running at a season per second (year per four seconds?) And the layer below the middle layer, probably was a similar down shift from the previous. Which, may or may not have helped to explain matters much, now that I think about it.
Time Trap Movie Final Thoughts
Was this a great movie? No. No, it wasn’t great. The acting was a little less than mediocre. The sets were beyond cheesy (I kept thinking that sleestaks would arrive any second). The dialog was creaky and utterly devoid of thought. And yet, I was totally intrigued by the mechanics of the time and these liquid clutches that allowed for these magnetic time slippages.
But these characters, when they realize that time is flying by at the surface, and that everything they know is dead and gone, it doesn’t even register on the surface of the minds. The screenplay doesn’t even consider how orphaned these characters should feel. Not even a little bit. Heck, they don’t even more for the eco-bankruptcy of the entire planet. Or the moratorium the entirety of humanity experiences. Like rats locked in a cage, the character’s only thoughts are for escape. But escape to WHAT? There’s nothing anymore. All hope is gone!
Better yet, let’s stop and think about this movie seriously for a second. You are a cowboy, or cowgirl, I’m not being sexist here, and you stumble into this cave with this fountain of youth. There is water there to heal yourself every time you mortally wound yourself. But unless you plan to dine on your holy water, you are going to be dying regularly. Soon after your arrival, your provisions would run out, and there would be little hope for you besides mainlining the holy water in perpetuity. You would be dying constantly withering constantly.
It had a few fascinating ideas going on in it. But I’m definitely not going to be putting this movie in my THiNC. recommendations list. That is for sure. I don’t know, am I being to hard on it?