Aside from the title of Mark Dennis and Ben Foster’s Time Trap, almost nothing else telegraphs where this sci-fi film will take you. From the title, it’s not difficult to gauge that it’ll have something to do with time travel or being trapped in time. Yet, it’s the unexpected that makes this film rise above many in the same vein. The beauty of Time Trap is that it presents a unique departure from the expected conventions of the genre.
Forging into the story, Mark Dennis‘ perspectives are often so unique I kind of question whether or not he is even of this world, or of this time. Perhaps he and co-director, Ben Foster (not to be confused with the actor from Hell or High Water) are both aliens or time-travelers here to set us straight on the things we keep getting wrong in cinema. Having worked together previously on the thriller, Strings, and the short film, The Alternate, their experience shows in the film’s quality.
The story begins as an archaeology teacher searches for hippies who disappeared years earlier while searching for something mysterious. The teacher’s motives appear muddled and cannot be immediately ascertained by the viewer, thus begins the intrigue. Eventually, some of his students, along with some younger kids, also become entangled in the search. The story begins to take us to places we wouldn’t necessarily expect.
Every new revelation pleases me as the story travels in opposing directions from where my mind initially anticipates. Often sci-fi, particularly time-travel, films follow a general formula, mostly distinguishing themselves from each other through rich characters. However, Mark Dennis gifts us with something original and intriguing that has little to do with the characters and everything to do with the concept of time.
In fact, the characters prove to be the biggest flaw in the film. At times they feel more like shells of people who are merely vehicles designed to move the viewer through the maze of the story. Occasionally a character would vocalize a particular observation to absolutely nobody. Apparently, it’s done to provide the audience with a dose of knowledge regarding a certain element or detail not to be overlooked. I do appreciate the filmmakers’ efforts to create a filmgoing experience that provides viewers with essential information. Who wants to stare at the screen completely confused for an hour and a half? However, these verbalizations prove unnecessary or overkill. The details are brought to light either by another character pointing them out or through the story’s actions and visuals. At times the dialogue and actions of the characters pull me out of the story. Luckily very little time passes before something yanks me right back in.
Time Trap is thoroughly entertaining, a great mystery addressing the concept of time.