Film Review: Timecrimes

Weirdly entertaining, at times inexplicable, combo of science fiction, horror and mystery.

The cinematic equivalent of a Moebius strip, the plot of Timecrimes keeps curling back on itself in fascinating, if not always understandable, ways. A super-low-budget genre exercise from Spain, writer-director Nacho Vigalondo’s extremely watchable work has long-running cult status written all over it.

The story opens with Hector (Karra Elejade), lounging in a garden in a large country house, spying a naked woman through his binoculars. When he goes into the nearby forest to investigate, he finds the nude beauty, who’s unconscious. Bending over her, Hector is stabbed by an unknown assailant, and as he flees from his attacker, he eventually stumbles into an isolated research facility where he meets a scientist (Vigalondo himself) who, it turns out, is experimenting with a very primitive time machine.

From here on in, things get mighty strange—and complicated. Turns out this Hector is one of several Hectors, all existing in different times and locations, all trying to kill off the others so Hector, the one and only Hector, can go back home and live in peace. Which means, for example, that the knife-wielding attacker is a Hector trying to off another Hector—and there are more than just two doppelgangers.

With little dialogue and a terrific sense of pace, Timecrimes is a sweet little exercise in making the incomprehensible entertaining, even if there are more twists and turns than necessary. Buoyed by a terrifically deadpan performance by Elejade—who plays Hector as if he were a determined math teacher trying to figure out a pesky problem—the film is consistent, puzzling fun. No surprise, then, that American remake rights have already been sold. With a good director, smart script and a plotline that’s a bit easier to parse than its original, an English version could be a real multiplex hit.