When often thinking about science-fiction films, people’s minds typically jump to more recent big budget sci-fi epics like Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Mad Max: Fury Road, and for good reason. Those films are enjoyable cinematic experiences and are easy crowd pleasers, but there’s something to be said about a relatively low budget sci-fi pic that manages to be both entertaining and thought provoking without featuring lightsaber battles or savage wastelanders. That why it’s so important for people to see Synchronicity, a very creative and slick little sci-fi thriller that succeeds because of the chemistry between its lead actors and its surprisingly emotional narrative.
Directed by Jacob Gentry (The Signal) and co-written by Alex Orr, Synchronicity follows obsessive physicist Jim Beale (Chad McKnight) who has invented a machine that has the power to create a wormhole into another dimension. Backed by the callous corporate tycoon Klaus Meisner (Michael Ironside), Jim works rigorously to prove that his time machine can work, all the while fighting to keep the rights to his invention. A further complication arises when Jim comes across the alluring and intelligent Abby (Brianne Davis), who seduces him into revealing his secrets. Fearful that she working with Meisner to steal his life’s work, Jim uses his machine to travel back in time with the hope of stopping the conspiracy against him and discovering the truth about Abby.
With its wonderfully noir near-future aesthetic, Synchronicity tells a fascinating tale of alternate realities. Although we get to enjoy the various scenarios that often come with time travel stories (i.e. creating parallel universes, changing the future), the film wisely focuses its attention on the relationships between its characters, specifically the romance between its leads.
McKnight and Davis are excellent together, and their dynamic only becomes even more compelling as the film goes on. Davis in particular stands out, and while McKnight perfectly embodies a man plagued by paranoia and an all-consuming drive to discover what is real and what isn’t, it’s Davis’ alternative-take on the femme-fatale that keeps the film grounded. There’s often a risk of the femme-fatale falling into the trap of being a clichéd, stock character, but Davis’ performance elevates Abby from being just an archetypal seductress. Not only does her onscreen relationship with McKnight remain compelling and surprisingly sweet, but her character has a lot more going on underneath the stunning smile.
In regard to the rest of the cast, Ironside delivers a fun, through familiar performance as corporate bad guy, Klaus Mesiner (Hell, with a name like that, how can he not be a villain?). The few scenes he’s given are enjoyable, especially when he’s monologing with a Blade Runner inspired cityscape behind him. AJ Bowen and Scott Poythress also co-star as McKnight’s lab assistants and primarily serve as the film’s comedy relief. They’re not given a whole lot to do except react to the time travel escapades of their boss, but they do keep the film from becoming too dark and dour during certain points.
Along with its excellent lighting, editing and 80s noir score, Synchronicity serves as an excellent example of what low-budget sci-fi films can accomplish. Not only did Gentry and his team not need a massive budget to make an entertaining and really stylized time-travel thriller, but they managed to do so along with creating a coherent narrative and a believable romantic relationship.
Synchronicity is currently in select theaters and available on VOD and ITunes.