When there is nothing new under the big black sun, the best direction to go is underground. As an outlaw film critic, I watch many films for the subterranean market, usually made with micro-budgets consisting of dreams and thin air. The less money available, the more freedom there is to be as strange as you want to bring attention to your production. This results in some fiendish surprises when an unusual cocktail of genre elements is mixed up and poured down your neck. Who knew that one could get a taste for a slaughterhouse variation on Multiplicity? That is exactly what we get with the unbelievable sci-fi black comedy Madelines.
Directed by Jason Richard Miller and co-written by Miller and star Brea Grant, the film follows Madeline (Grant) and her husband Owen (Parry Shen). The couple is working on time travel in their garage-based lab. They successfully sent an orange several minutes into the future. Their financial backer, Rory (Richard Riehle), is eager for the project to advance into human testing. However, the first attempt with a mouse was disastrous, and Madeline hates the idea of any more mice dying for science. So after a night of chugging wine, she uses the machine on herself.
“…another Madeline appears in the backyard the next day, with Owen killing that one. And the next one the next day…”
Suddenly it is the next day in her backyard, and Owen is stunned. Though reckless, Madeline was able to travel through time and survive. The next day Owen is in the backyard, and Madeline appears and attacks him. While defending himself, Owen kills Madeline. While Owen cries over Madeline’s body, Madeline walks in. Making sure the universal time travel rule that the same person from two different time periods cannot be together in the same space without a cosmic cataclysm, Owen keeps Madeline away from dead Madeline, hiding the body. However, another Madeline appears in the backyard the next day, with Owen killing that one. And the next one the next day, and the day after that and… As the bodies pile up, Owen worries about what horrible things may happen if Madeline accidentally runs into herself.
The first thing to compliment Madelines on is the script and its lightning bolt delivery of concept. The story is set up with initiating action in the first 10 minutes, with the idea fully established and underway 5 minutes later. This is the pacing all indie films should emulate by getting down to business as quickly as possible. Remember, pacing costs nothing. You just type in the actions sooner. There is also a commitment to developing the concept much further than most stories would go.
"…like Stallone writing Rocky as a clone of The Warriors..."
Can’t wait to check this out.