in Shocktober

Timecrimes (2007)

In my last Shocktober review, I talked a lot about perspective – how horror movies especially put the audience in the shoes of their protagonists. I’d like to continue drilling into that cavity as I write about Timecrimes, because it does an exceptional job showing how depending on your point of view, these movies could just as easily be a dark (or even slapstick) comedies or depressing dramas.

Hector (Karra Elejalde) is a shlubby dude who is having a pretty lame day. He picked up some things for him and his wife’s (Candela Fernández) home renovation and it all spilled out of the back of his car when he got home. He tries to take a nap but can’t fall asleep. But things finally perk up when he’s scanning the woods with his binoculars and sees an attractive woman (Barbara Goenaga) take her shirt off. Hector’s wife has left to get them dinner at this point, so he decides to head over there and check out this babe. Only when he gets there, he finds her unconscious. As Hector begins to investigate, a man with a bandaged face and a dark trench coat appears and stabs Hector with a pair of scissors.

Terrified for his life, Hector runs and eventually stumbles upon a mysterious, abandoned building. There, he finds a walkie-talkie and begins speaking with the only other person there, a scientist (the film’s director Nacho Vigalondo) who warns Hector that the bandaged man is pursuing him through the compound. The scientist leads Hector to an unusual silo and, when he sees that the bandaged man is right outside, convinces Hector to hide in a strange mechanical device filled with a strange white liquid. The scientist closes the lid and soon opens it again, and Hector crawls out and is surprised to see that even though it was night when he got in, the sun is up now. Even scarier, Hector looks through his binoculars at his house and sees his wife and himself reenacting the day’s events. He’s gone back in time to earlier that day!

Timecrimes follows this specific Hector through his misadventures in time travel, in what could be described as Groundhog Day if every Phil continued to exist after each reset. The bizarre events of the day come into focus as the film shows Hector try to accomplish his goals while preserving the timeline, which is one of those things you’ve just got to do. What’s great about this is how the movie shows each moment from a few perspectives without ever changing what happened. But by giving us the context leading up to them, and the fallout of them, it really changes the experience. I just can’t think of an example to write up without spoiling the movie in some way, trust me on this.

Before I go, here’s the requisite paragraph about time travel. Again, I will remind people that time travel is always a bad idea because it never makes sense. Timecrimes is a pretty classic example of a causal loop: the events that cause Hector to go back in time are caused by Hector having gone back in time. It’s a paradox and hurts your head to try to logic out. On the other hand, I did respect that, at the very least, Timecrimes committed to the past, present, and future being unchangeable, which makes what I described above more fun to watch. If you’re going to do a causal loop story, this is about as good as you can hope to do, I can’t deny that.