LFF 2019 ‘Synchronic’ Review: Bold and Inventive Horror/Sci-Fi

Two New Orleans paramedics (Anthony Mackie and Jaimie Dornan) notice a pattern amongst their stranger cases. Bizarre wounds, out of place objects and the presence of a strange new designer drug called Synchronic. As the danger threatens to get closer to home, the men must discover the truth behind the strange drug.

Film makers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead have crafted another genre bending delight that completely changes focus at the midpoint. Familiar elements to their work include the significant use of recording media, strange visions and time distortion. In terms of concept this may be their most ambitious project yet, and indeed Benson’s script has a lot of work to do in terms of exposition. It manages this ably for the most part with only one sequence feeling contrived.

The movie captures the tension of Zemeckis’ Back to the Future series, and there are some nods to the franchise (a dog named Hawking, for example) but the style is entirely unique. The early sequences of paramedic procedural feel authentic. The two leads have an excellent and entirely natural back and forth. A creeping horror stalks the men as they go about their disturbing work.

The pair have always excelled at nuanced character relationships and the chemistry between Mackie and Dornan is immaculate. Mackie portrays a frail and damaged man who finds himself running short on time. His moments of melancholia are deep and tragic.

The film’s climax could be seen as lacking conviction. It doesn’t quite realise the awesome potential it has spent the film developing and so falls short of similar films like Primer. Nevertheless this is a fantastically original horror film with an abundance of ideas and a film-making talent that makes it an absolute joy.

Four Stars

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