Streaming Releases: Time Trap (2018) - Reviewed

Time travel films and television shows usually collapse under the weight of their self-made contradictions, while a handful of exceptions either redefine the genre or at the least provide a thrilling respite from the grim determination of the 9 to 5 work week.  Ben Foster and Mark Dennis' Time Trap is a welcomed addition to the latter; taking what could have been an overly complicated story and presenting an inspired take on time bending shenanigans that is refreshing in its creative approach to the material. 

An archaeology professor is searching for a group of hippies that disappeared in a remote location during the summer of love while searching for the fountain of youth.  When the professor also goes missing, a ragtag group of students and their wards set out to find him which leads them into a mysterious cave where the rules of time no longer apply.  This is a film that knows what it is and never tries to hide it.  Dennis' script is uncharacteristically fresh, with tired archetypes and recycled tropes being turned on their head whenever possible.  Of course the budget constraints show throughout, but the sense of fun never abates, even during some of the more tense sequences that are sprinkled throughout.  Hope itself is Time Trap's greatest quality.  Even in moments of despair, the protagonists react rationally and never surrender, showcasing creativity, problem solving, and loyalty whenever they encounter adversity.  For what initially appears to be And Then There Were None to the Future, this is a remarkably fun experience that also makes sense within the framework of the time traveling anomaly at the center of the story. This makes the film a truly unique experience that is crafted into a refreshingly light young adult package. 

Mike Simpson's cinematography builds upon the claustrophobic atmosphere of the cave with tight shots of the explorers and a subdued use of shadows to infuse an ominous undercurrent into the proceedings.  There's some remarkable shots of the Texas wilderness that are breathtaking and the manipulation of these environs to fit into the plot’s structure is admirable.  The final piece is Sean White's restrained art direction.  Lower budget films tend to go overboard with either violence or ambiance to obfuscate the lack of funding, but Time Trap finds a balance in between.  The cave, filled with terrors and wonders is an interesting place to inhabit for the bulk of the film's run time while other locations, both above ground and beyond are vibrant and filled with possibilities.  

Coming soon to streaming, Time Trap is an excellent Friday night experience, hearkening back to the storied films of the '80s in which youthful heroes were forced to rise to the occasion by mysterious events.  Perhaps the greatest strength of this special picture is in its reliance on its cast.  While the big villain is more conceptual than corporeal, this choice shows Foster's confidence in the remarkable group of young talent that he has assembled and the final result is a fun foray of sci-fi camp that is filled with a surprising amount of promise.  

--Kyle Jonathan