As an avid film fan, I am in no way discriminatory when it comes to choosing which movie to watch. That is to say that I will watch any movie by any filmmaker. Still, like everyone else, there are some directors that I get more excited about than others. I am only human, after all. From that handful of directors, two that are very high on the list are Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson. Needless to say, I was very anxious to get my hands on their newest film, Synchronic.
When New Orleans paramedics and longtime best friends Steve (Anthony Mackie, Avengers) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan, Fifty Shades of Grey) are called to a series of bizarre, gruesome accidents, they chalk it up to the mysterious new party drug found at the scene. But after Dennis’s oldest daughter suddenly disappears, Steve stumbles upon a terrifying truth about the supposed psychedelic that will challenge everything he knows about reality—and the flow of time itself.
If you’ve read any of my reviews in the past, you know that I generally like to head into a new film experience with as little information as possible. It’s rare that I even watch a trailer, quite frankly. In the case of Synchronic, however, I did at least do that much. The trailer, of course, only heightened my levels of excitement because even though it left me with more questions than answers about the film’s plot, I knew I was going to be in good hands with Moorhead and Benson.
Synchronic, in essence, is a film about time travel. This isn’t the first time these talented filmmakers have tackled the subject, as both Resolution and The Endless delve into that realm in their own ways. Still, this is the first time that we get a full blown feature from the duo exploring the subject entirely.
While the characters of this 2019 film experience this shift and in time and space, it, too, feels as though we the viewers are experiencing it, as well. This is brilliantly executed through a mix of incredible visual effects — created by none other than the team who has brought us such awesome work as Blade Runner 2049, “Game of Thrones,” “American Gods,” etc. — cinematography, and editing.
The visual FX seen throughout Synchronic‘s 1 hour and 42 minutes is some of the best you will see in genre film period. This film is without a doubt the largest budgeted one that Moorhead and Benson have created, lending a huge hand in allowing them to share this story with their audiences the proper way. I have no doubt that they would have pulled it off with half the budget, but there is no denying that these effects really helped seal the deal on taking this from just a good movie to a great one. You can tell when visual effects are being put to work, but it also feels natural and doesn’t ever look too cheesy or out of place in any way. Everything you see is done deliberately, with purpose and it all looks wonderful from start to finish.
The editing I mentioned, that helps in creating this overlapping feeling of time progression, is a much more simpler practice than the effects themselves. All that it took was cutting from scene to scene, past to present, playing with the time frame of many of the scenarios which unfold throughout Synchronic. For instance, in one moment we may be seeing Anthony Mackie’s character, Steve, after a procedure at the hospital. The next, we see him, sitting in that same exact position, riding in the back of the ambulance; One second, we are presented with Dornan’s Dennis speaking to his wife at the kitchen table, while the next scene is of him sitting across from Steve at a bar. This back and forth may sound confusing, but I assure you, if that is the case, it is only in the way I am explaining it. It is much more cohesive as you watch the film and in no way confusing whatsoever.
Synchronic is more of a sci-fi film than a full blown horror, but that isn’t to say that there aren’t some horrifying elements at hand. The time travel we see here isn’t about re-visiting some special moment in your past life. Instead, our characters are brought to some unknown time and place, in the middle of war or a swamp or desert only to be attacked by an unsuspecting stranger from a bygone era. No, there is nothing pretty about time travel in Synchronic and to quote Steve, “the past sucks.”
Synchronic at Home
The fourth feature film from Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson is available now on Digital and will be available to own on Blu-ray and DVD on Tuesday, January 26 from Well Go USA Entertainment.
The Blu-ray home release of Synchronic is presented in 16×9 widescreen format and features DTS HDMA 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo audio tracks, as well as optional English SDH subtitles.
In terms of bonus content, there is actually a good amount to dive into. Not only is there commentary with both the directors [and a producer], but there is also a behind-the-scenes making-of featurette, a VFX breakdown featurette, a deleted scene, a [joke] alternate ending, and more.
I was extremely excited to jump headfirst into Moorhead and Benson’s newest film and it did not disappoint one bit. The performances from all parties is phenomenal, the writing is sensational (I especially love the best-friend, always-bickering-but-still-love-you dynamic between Steve and Dennis) and original, and the effects are top tier. If you are someone who is always asking for originality in your genre films, then look no further than Synchronic.
Give the film a watch for yourself, as I give it 4.5 dick-ass conquistadors out of 5.