George Moise - 2016
Artsploitation Films Region 1 DVD
I was glad to see that in the "Making of . . ." supplement for Counter Clockwise, writer-director George Moise acknowledged, among other films, Nacho Vigalongo's Time Crimes from 2007. The two films have somewhat similar premises with a man going into the future, and pursuing himself in the attempt to prevent a future crime. The biggest difference is that Vigalongo kept everything compact, with the action taking place within a very specific space, with a small number of characters. Moise takes his main character and his clones through the outskirts of Los Angeles, with a larger number of characters encompassing a much larger space.
While films with characters caught in time loops, finding themselves repeating situations, have been around since at least the 1930s, Moise uses a visual queue from what may be the first film to show time traveling characters within the same space. That film, from 1964, was in fact titled The Time Travelers, where a group of scientists, working on a time portal, briefly spot shadows that appear spontaneously, unaware that the shadows are their future selves, moving through an accelerated time loop. Moise gradually reveals that his main character, the scientist Ethan, is caught in a time loop with brief shadows that seem to appear of their own accord, as well as visual hints that are revisited as the film progresses.
One of the things I liked about Ethan's lab was how the equipment appeared to be totally industrial. It's been a cliche for films involving time travel to feature a lab with the aim of dazzling the viewer with lights and the shine of metal. The teleporter here looks like used equipment and a switchboard found in a factory, hooked up with a couple of basic desktop computers. As it turns out, Ethan's discovery that he has travelled six months into the future is an unintended accident. Ethan finds himself caught in a future that involves rivalry between two companies seeking Ethan's invention, as well as death and murder. What sets things off is that the original experiment is with a dog that seemingly has disappeared. While Ethan vainly attempts to go back to the time when he sent himself to the future, there is the question as to whether any of the events would not have happened had he not tried the experiment on himself.
After several shorts, this is George Moise's feature debut, which played at several genre film festivals. The DVD comes with three commentary tracks, deleted scenes, and the previously mentioned "Making of . . . " supplement. The film is quite polished for work shot on a very limited budget, as can be seen with Moise and his skeleton crew filming with small, digital cameras.