This years FrightFest kicked off with the eagerly anticipated, Synchronic, from the directing duo of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead.

The pair now have an almost cult-like following and this will no doubt only grow as they try their hand at a time-travel in what is their fourth film together.

We follow the New Orleans’ paramedic team of Dennis (Jamie Dornan) and Steve (Anthony Mackie) in this mystery sci-fi drama, who attend different incidents with varying degrees of gore where there is a growing pattern that new designer drug, ‘Synchronic’, is to blame.

Make no mistake about it, this is not SAW-level gore or what you might typically expect.

What grabs you in this film is the great chemistry between Dornan and Mackie where you instantly connect with their characters who have an almost comedic, nonchalant, approach to their work.

The slow build of mystery adds to the tension. You don’t quite know what is going on where in one particular scene a man appears to have been stabbed with a sword not of this era. This gives way to Mackie’s crusade to rid the streets of Synchronic as he deals with his own personal crisis.

Its moments of levity are welcome and dark humour is cleverly delivered by Jamie Dornan, who at one stage is presented with a ‘burns victim’ that he correctly declares in a deadpan fashion is, in fact, a corpse.

This is a far cry from his days of dealing in chains and whips as he proves his abilities are far greater.

But it does become clunky as Synchronic tries to do too much and loses its way. The mystery it carefully takes its time to create is almost unravelled immediately. It takes a weird but to its credit unexpected path of time-travel.

The time-travel aspect of it is not really the issue, per se, but more the fact it is there to aid a plot development that comes out of nowhere and feels shoehorned in.

This is where it is hard to stick with it as Anthony Mackie’s ‘Steve’ is then reduced to time-travel experimental scenes discovering the ‘rules’ which are just downright ridiculous. It feels contrived, too much of a parody almost, with obvious and then literal references to Back to the Future.

Synchronic wants to deliver an emotional pay off at the end but the storytelling falters in such a way it feels empty and doesn’t carry with it the power it is aiming for.

It builds mystery but let’s itself down by veering into the unknown of time-travel instead of staying grounded.

Signature Entertainment presents Synchronic later in 2020

 

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Synchronic Review - GFF20
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Freelance film writer known to recite Robocop lines in elevators. And fan of all things Sylvester Stallone.