It’s a very difficult thing to do to take a premise from a television show and turn it into a meaningful, and completely different, film. Josh Finn has done exactly that. Taking one of the most profound and meaningful of all of the Twilight Zone episodes, “Time Enough at Last”, Josh Finn creates an alternate reality rife with emotions and an artistic homage to the Twilight Zone series.
Using the premise that a young man who feels terribly neglected by his father grows up missing the relationship they could have had, the story centers on a youth credited only as The Narrator (ironically, that was also Rod Serling’s role on the “Twilight Zone”). The Narrator (portrayed by the immensely talented Stephan Paternot) works in an office building and goes through each day remembering the times when he was a child along his sister Maggie, and their aloof, unresponsive father. When the building begins to burn due to an accidental office fire, The Narrator is trapped helplessly in the flaming building. The Narrator’s reality crumbles and he is caught in a strange dreamlike world (“Twilight Zone”-esque world, if you will). In this strange state of mind he is able to reunite with his father and to create the relationship he never had, because time has twisted to allow this strange reconciliation.
Using visuals that stun and markedly exciting special effects, the story isn’t just a gooshy emotional ride; it’s a science fiction ode to the brilliance of Rod Serling. It delves into the soul of Serling’s work, attempting to uncover how his devotion to his television series must have compromised his own personal relationships while exploring the types of stories he was trying to tell. It tries, without making any real promises, to guess what Serling the man, not Serling the Narrator, must have been like. While borrowing a storyline and an initial concept, “Time Enough at Last” is still original enough to pull off this kind of tale. The writing is not campy and it doesn’t center on images from the “Twilight Zone”; it uses them as a tool to enhance the strikingly original direction of Josh Finn.
“Time Enough at Last” was one of the most unnerving “Twilight Zone” episodes ever made. “Time Enough at Last”, the short film. is a worthy successor to the name. The sadness that this film induces makes me imagine what Mr. Serling may have been trying to express, the only way he knew how, his frustrations and fears to the world at large through his fantastical television series. The character of the Narrator in Finn’s “Time Enough At Last” takes on the same characteristics. Except that the Narrator gets to examine how he feels and miraculously is given the time, at last, to achieve closure. I will always wonder, based on this film, if Mr. Serling found respite from his torments, if any, in the words he so carefully chose to express our odd and surreal human existence. In Serling’s words, Finn has expressed to us a character that lives and dies, and is
“now just a part of a smashed landscape, just a piece of the rubble, just a fragment of what man has deeded to himself.” – Rod Serling, Time Enough at Last