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Shaky third act keeps Timecrimes a conundrum
Shaky third act keeps Timecrimes a conundrum
Shaky third act keeps Timecrimes a conundrum by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN Contributing Writer

Timecrimes
Opening december 19


Héctor (Karra Elejalde) is a happy man. Sitting on the lawn just outside his brand-new country home, he can't imagine a better environment for him and his wife Clara (Candela Fernández) to sit back and relax within. Secluded, right in the middle of lush forest and with nary a bit of traffic, this is about as far out of the way as two people can get, peace and quiet the only thing either of them are in the mood to think about.

That changes when Héctor spies a nude woman through his binoculars up on a nearby hillside. Hiking up there to see what's going on, the middle aged man is bizarrely attacked by a grotesque figure with a pair of shears, the attacker's head wrapped in a blood-soaked pink bandage.

Wounded, he finds himself in a secret scientific compound, the lone attendant (director Nacho Vigalondo) having him hide in a mysterious contraption filled to the brim with sinister looking milky water. Next thing Héctor knows he has inexplicably traveled back in time, and just when things look like they can't get any worse, he finds he's face to face with a potential killer who looks surprisingly much like himself.

Award-winning short film director Vigalondo makes the leap to features with his trippy Seattle International Film Festival favorite Timecrimes, a Twilight Zone wannabe that sets a suitably creepy vibe only to unfortunately fall to pieces during the climax. Undeniably easy to watch, the film still isn't very fulfilling, the aftertaste left by the over-familiar finale one I just didn't like.

Up until then, however, Vigalondo's debut is one heck of a lot of sinisterly unsettling fun. Combining the very best of intellectually driven sci-fi and horrifically uncomforting slasher films, the picture twists, turns and wraps back in on itself so many times it could make your head spin. For a good hour I was completely on the edge of my seat, continually inching ever-forward, hungering to discover what was going to happen next.

The problem is, at a certain point all of this identity multiplicity gets a little silly. More than that, once the major twist is revealed, there's really only one place for all this admittedly suspenseful chaos to go. If the director is hoping to wow audiences with a killer finale, sorry to say, it just doesn't happen. The shock of who lives and who dies is so obvious it can't help but become tediously ho-hum.

Still, Timecrimes can be a total hoot. Vigalondo stages everything with a crazy manic energy that's utterly infectious, while cinematographer Flavio Martínez Labiano photographs it all with an urgent immediacy that's quite compelling. The film is also extremely well acted, Elejalde a particular standout giving Héctor an everyman forcefulness impossible not to relate at least in some small part to.

It's still not enough. All the inanely familiar madness unleashed during the third act dilutes all the goodwill built up during the first two thirds, and as much as I wanted to enjoy myself, it was almost as if the director was daring me to do otherwise. While it doesn't completely fall apart, the movie comes just close enough to doing so I couldn't help but be disappointed, and if I could go back in time and do it again I'd probably end up passing on Timecrimes completely.

Courtesy of moviefreak.com

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