I try to do lists on Tuesdays, and I haven’t been doing much lately but watching movies and playing horror video games for the various projects I’m doing at Game Front. But I have caught a number of cool time travel films since the last time I did a list about time travel movies, so I figured I’d throw a few more your way.
So here we go:
3. The Penitent Man (2010)
I greatly enjoy just about anything that involves Lance Henriksen, which is why I hit up The Penitent Man when it popped up on Netflix. The film is mostly a pretty slow burn, focusing primarily on two guys having conversations — one a psychiatrist, the other his strange older patient. Henriksen plays the patient, a man claiming to have returned from a rather crappy future.
It’s not the most brilliant of time travel movies. You’ll likely have guessed the ending roughly at the first mention of time travel. But it does have a great performance from Henriksen and some interesting ruminations on time travel as the characters sit and talk about the nature of life, time, and choice over the course of their psychiatric sessions. I liked Henriksen as the maybe-time traveler, maybe-mentally disturbed guy, because his depiction of the creation of the potential science and the future it creates works, even if it works in his own mind. All of it is conveyed through Henriksen’s dialog — which is remarkable because his performance is good enough to make talking about the future, rather than seeing it, still work.
2. Repeaters (2010)
Imagine the premise of Groundhog Day, darkened by about 100 percent. Three former drug addicts, several months into their stays in rehab, are tasked with the “making amends” portion of their 12 Steppage. So each spends the day leaving the facility to find various family members: one goes to school to see his sister, another to the hospital to see her dying father, and the last to jail, where his father waits. None of the meetings go well. Everybody is kinda upset.
And then — time loop. Suddenly the three are repeating the same day over and over again, for no discernible reason. And then the movie tracks a similar course to Bill Murray’s experience: elation at unlimited time bleeding into the feeling of being trapped in a world without consequences. It’s more of a drama/thriller than the Harold Ramis comedy, but it’s an interesting what-if take on a similar situation.
1. Detention (2011)
Weirdness abounds in Detention. The movie bends genres, annihilates tropes, makes fun of everything and does it all while heaping on a metric ton of 90s nostalgia-mockery. It’s a high school comedy. It’s a slasher flic. It’s a murder mystery. It’s a sci-fi film. And it’s also a time travel movie.
The thing that makes Detention endearing is that it’s going far out of is way to be crazy, dismantling all those genres along the way for maximum fun. And fun is definitely what results, even in the most horror-ish moments (which are never really all that horror-ish). It’s a bit of a sleeper great, Detention, and will likely find a niche audience, and while it’s not the most time travel-ish or scientifically savvy of the choices here — it doesn’t even make much sense — it is a really good, upbeat time. But you’ll have to catch it on disc, unfortunately.
Feel free to leave some additional suggestions in the comments, or to tell me what you guys think of these ones.