Time Trap begins with Taylor (Reiley McClendon) and Jackie (Brianne Howey) searching for their missing professor, Hopper (Andrew Wilson). Hopper went spelunking in a cave system which may hold the secret to the Fountain of Youth. The students enlist Taylor’s friend Cara (Cassidy Gifford), her younger sister Veeves (Olivia Draguicevich), and Veeves’s overzealous schoolmate Furby (Max Wright) to aid in their quest.
The group finds Hopper’s car and a rope leading to a series of cavernous tunnels. They leave Furby, who is documenting the trip, as a lookout in case something happens. Everyone else repels down to look for clues. While exploring, weird noises occur over the walkie-talkies. Taylor suspects Furby is messing around, but upon seeing the ropes split and cut on the cave floor, the friends begin to worry about Furby.
Cara free climbs out and takes video of an almost unrecognizable landscape, but upon going back down, the others question her, as she was gone for one minute. Confused, Cara shows them the video she took of her time on the surface. As they dissect the video frame by frame, it dawns on everyone that ten seconds in the cave is more than a year above ground. Taylor, Jackie, Cara, and Veeves decide to continue searching for Hopper, as he might know how to get them back to their own time.
“…spelunking in a cave system which may hold the secret to the Fountain of Youth.”
Written by Mark Dennis, who also co-directs with Ben Foster (no relation to the actor of the same name), Time Trap’s screenplay is intelligent and wildly fun. But, there is one issue with the film, and that is the ending. Throughout the film, a growing sense of desperation and despair mounts, until a visually remarkable sequence close to the end shows the Fountain of Youth proper. However, the final few minutes of this sci-fi mind-bender clean everything up far too tidy and neatly. Without spoiling anything the ending is entirely wholesome, which makes it feel like a cop-out that does a tiny disservice to the tone and atmosphere Time Trap has been setting up from the first frame.
The script’s biggest strength lies in its characterizations. The audience’s introduction to Furby marks the character to be obnoxious and obsessive in an unrealistic way. However, as he waits days and days for everyone else to resurface, his posturing fades away. In a video on the first day, after waiting for a few hours, Furby confesses that he doesn’t have many friends but thinks that this group really likes him. Moments like these highlight the nuance of the film’s characters and invest the viewer in their predicament.
Dennis and Foster’s direction keeps the audience enthralled. Over the walkie-talkie, the group hears a voice that claims to be Furby, but it sounds nothing like him. They keep pressing whoever is on the other side to reveal themselves, and then they stumble upon Furby’s dead body. It is an unnerving sequence in which the audience is just as stressed as the fictional characters they are watching. Once the main action kicks into gear, every scene ratchets up the ante in a believable way. When the stakes get higher, the audience feels for the characters more and more.
“…highly creative, populated with relatable characters, with a whip-smart script.”
The special effects by Jean-Baptiste Cambier and Vladimir Leschinski, along with their team, are utilized quite well throughout. The subtle effects used to speed up the cycle of the days and years are very good. An amazing slow down effect from the end of the movie is astonishing and shows that talent and innovation can overcome budgetary limitations.
The imaginative premise is brought to life by a capable cast. Andrew Wilson, brother to Luke and Owen, is fun as the professor with a secret agenda. Max Wright as Furby astounds, especially in the quiet moments when he’s not trying as hard. Playing Taylor, Reiley McClendon is excellent, commanding the screen and being easy to root for. Gifford and Draguicevich are believable as sisters, and their relationship brings a lot of tenderness to the proceedings. Jackie is stubborn, but Howey makes that an asset rather than a nuisance.
Time Trap is highly creative, populated with relatable characters, with a whip-smart script. Sadly, the very end of the movie undoes the tense atmosphere setup throughout. While it does not ruin the film, it does leave one a bit disappointed.
Time Trap (2018) Directed by Mark Dennis, Ben Foster. Written by Mark Dennis. Starring Andrew Wilson, Cassidy Gifford, Brianne Howey, Reiley McClendon, Olivia Draguicevich, Max Wright.
7.5 Gummi Bears (out of 10)