The Horror Honeys: Sci-Friday ~ Down the Neo-Noir Wormhole

Sci-Friday ~ Down the Neo-Noir Wormhole

A Sci-Fi Honey New Release Review by Katie

Synchronicity (2016)

It’s the name of a totally awesome 1983 album by The Police, but it’s also a word that means “coincidence in time” – therefore, it’s the perfect title for a brand new yet 1980s-esque retro time travel film from the creators of 2007’s The Signal. Writer/director Jacob Gentry reteams with actors Chad McKnight and AJ Bowen for Synchronicity, the latest in a burgeoning trend in indie sci-fi that explores the various paradoxes that arise from time travel and navigating parallel universes. What sets this film apart from the pack is the mood it imbues in conveying its larger-than-life message – a throwback to an era when sci-fi cinema looked and felt as radical as the ideas contained within it.

McKnight and Bowen play Jim and Chuck, nuclear physicists on the verge of something huge: perfecting a device that can bend time and space to open a traversable wormhole. To make their time machine work, however, they require an investment from venture capitalist Klaus Meisner, whose role as the antagonist in the film is further demonstrated by the fact that he’s played by perpetual badass Michael Ironside. Meisner is only interested in stealing the time-traveling invention and the inventors’ forthcoming scientific glory, but he’s also romantically entangled with a sassy sexpot (Brianne Davis) who may have motives of her own.

Every step you take, I’ll be watching you…
If the basic plot threads seem relatively unoriginal, that’s because Synchronicity covers some age-old story territory – especially when Davis’s character becomes the catalyst for a scientific love triangle between the inventor and his financier. There are interesting developments and narrative turns that take the film in intriguing directions, but most of it gets a little convoluted after the first plunge through the wormhole. The creation of multiple timelines, parallel character interactions, and the endless loop of paradoxical conundrums is enough to keep the viewer scratching their head in an age when most audiences can barely pay attention. This can be a recurring issue for any film examining the theoretical puzzles that result from time travel; fortunately, Synchronicity manages to engage the audience in another (not-so-cerebral) way.

She blinded me with science!
Despite its story flaws and a woefully underused Bowen and Ironside, the one thing that Synchronicity manages to achieve at the outset is letting you know how really, really “cool” it is. The opening few minutes of the film, scored to the pulsating synth tones of electro-rock duo Ghostland Observatory’s “Mama," sets a retro tone with a psychedelic visual abstraction of what it would be like to pass through a deep space wormhole. These images recur throughout the film whenever Jim feels the effects of time travel in the synapses in his brain, infusing a shock of color in Synchronicity’s gritty neo-noir palette. Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is an obvious photographic and thematic influence on the film, emulated in the high-contrast shadows and roving spotlights that creep through each frame. Davis’s ‘femme fatale’ character, too, is a familiar trope of this type of sci-fi: she’s seductively mysterious; she wears too much eyeliner; she smokes too many cigarettes. Is it more than a little clichéd? Perhaps. But the coolness will suck you in, no matter how reluctant, to appreciating Synchronicity’s throwback style. 

Sweet dreams are made of this.
As homage to a fondly memorialized era in sci-fi cinema – rather than producing a cheap imitation – Gentry and co. have imbued Synchronicity with the right kind of vibe that makes exploring the paradoxes of time travel worth the headache. It’s easy for a film like Interstellar to convey parallel worlds with 165 million dollars at their disposal; what’s more challenging is to blow minds on a fraction of the budget. Synchronicity is one of a handful of recent indie time-travel films, including Predestination and Coherence, that set an effective tone for making an audience feel a place and time, rather than merely seeing it in dollars on-screen. If you’d like to travel back to a synth-ier time in sci-fi, Synchronicity is the film to check out. 

Sci-Fi Honey Rating: Three-and-a-half psychedelic wormholes out of five.

Synchronicity is available via iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, Google Play, & is available for pre-order on blu-ray/DVD

Will you be checking out this throw-back sci-fi film?
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