Thursday, October 26, 2017

AFF ’17: Time Trap

Being hippies, Prof. Hopper’s parents are by definition trapped in time. In their case, it is also literally true. After years of looking, the archeology professors will finally stumble into the rift in the space-time continuum that swallowed them up. When he subsequently disappears, some of his students will follow along behind him in Mark Dennis & Ben Foster’s Time Trap (trailer here), which screens during the 2017 Austin Film Festival.

After years of searching the desert, Hopper finally turns up his parents’ hippy van. Naturally, he ventures into the nearby cave in search of any traces, even though he must pass through an invisible but tangible barrier. Obviously, he is not coming back anytime soon, so Taylor and Jackie, two of the biggest brown-nosers in his class, head out looking for him. They will need wheels, so they hit up poor Cara, who has long carried a torch for Taylor. To give the film a bit of a Goonies flavor (which it even references), Cara brings her little sister Veeves, who in turn invites along the obnoxious Furby.

Since Furby is useless, they leave above be the lookout while they explore the cave. However, he apparently plunges to his death shortly thereafter. When examining his GoPro camera, they inexplicably find hours of him whining about being abandoned without food or water. Meanwhile, Prof. Hopper exits and re-enters after finding his students gear outside. It soon becomes all too clear there are other parties lost in the cave, above and beyond the wild west gunslinger Hopper encounters in the alternate entrance.

Time Trap really proves how much a professional grade cast can elevate what is essentially a half-baked B-movie. There is a lot of scampering about caves and running from Neanderthals, but the game ensemble largely convinces us this is a cosmically serious situation. The screenplay (solely credited to Dennis) also manages to take the Interstellar-esque time warp Macguffin and follow it to its most mind-bending logical extremes.

Rather refreshingly, Brianne Howey, Reiley McClendon, and Cassidy Gifford all seem reasonably together and down-to-earth as Jackie, Taylor, and Cara, respectively. Frankly, the only character who causes serious acid reflux is the cringe-inducing Furby, but Dennis & Foster axe him early in the second act.

Time Trap a definitely a kitchen sink film that features both provocative far-future speculations and chaotic subterranean bedlam. It makes you wonder what cheesy favorites like Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone and Prisoners of the Lost Universe might have been like, if they had 2010s digital technology available to them. Granted, Time Trap is a more inventive and polished, but it has a similar eagerness to please. Affectionately recommended for science fiction fans, Time Trap screens Saturday (10/28) and Wednesday (11/1) during this year’s Austin Film Festival.