Let’s find out when we are.
Synchronic is the latest film from Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead who have proven to be fantastic creators in the science fiction genre. Every one of their films has been an excellent sample of thoughtful and often disturbing stories. These two may be some one of the best writing/directing duos active today.
In Synchronic, we follow paramedics Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan) who are both struggling with their position in life. These old friends both seem to idolize one another, yet neither one seems willing to closely examine where they are at the exact moment. Mix in a troubling medical diagnosis for Steve and a new drug that seems to be killing people and we have a tense situation.
The drug, named Synchronic, is created bizarre crime scenes where individuals have fallen through elevators, been stabbed with ancient swords, or somehow lit on fire. The only clues are the Synchronic package and warped artifacts that don’t make sense.
Dennis’ daughter Brianna (Ally Ioannides) goes missing, and it looks like she took the drug. This prompts Dennis to experiment with the drugs and he discovers Synchronic moves you through time. However, it is possible to become trapped in the past if you’re not careful. He must find a way to rescue Brianna and not get himself trapped.
The best part of the film is the writing. We have excellent banter between Dennis and Steve, as well as a truly textured relationship. Benson and Moorhead know how to write interpersonal conflict, and they do it naturally. Their characters are always fascinating, flawed, and real.
The ideas of the film (and all the preceding Benson and Moorhead films) are great. However, their thoughtful ideas work better due to having well-written characters interacting with these strange scenarios. Further, the implications and true terror of the narratives are not beaten over the audiences’ head. We are required to view actively and see the deeper issues.
For example, race is at the forefront of this narrative without being used in a way that is sensational. Steve is not safe in the past, and encounters danger immediately due to his skin color. However, Steve isn’t safe in the present, either, and is mistaken for a criminal when he is not wearing his uniform. These smaller moments add a depth to the film that creates a unique experience.
The visuals of the past, or perhaps I should say the transitions to the past, are interesting. I loved so much of this movie and found the entire narrative captivating. I highly recommend this film (and all their other ones) to anyone who is interested in thoughtful science fiction/horror.
However, I do have some gripes with the narrative that are a bit spoiler-heavy. If you want to read some deeper analysis after seeing the film hit the next page.