Counter Clockwise

| January 9, 2017

I will watch literally any movie if you tell me it’s about time travel.  You could even use the phrase “I think there might be a little time travel in it” and I’ll check it out.  My editor here at Filmmonthly knows this and that’s why most of these little indy time travel films that get offered to the site get offered directly to me.  Fortunately for those who make these movies, I tend to really love these movies.  Since time travel is a purely theoretical scientific principle, movies that attempt to tell a story with it are free to invent their own rules, and to my everlasting joy, most try to come up with something that’s never been done exactly the same way in previous films.

Counter Clockwise is an exceptionally average movie.  The characters are fine, the story is interesting enough, and it’s capably shot by director George Moise.  What elevates it from a mediocre film to a good film for me is the presence of a time machine, and the treat I get from contemplating the machine’s presence in the story, and effects it has on the characters’ lives.

The story is pretty simple.  Two scientists, Ethan (Michael Kopelow) and Ceil (Alice Reitveld), attempt to build a teleportation machine in their warehouse laboratory.  When they attempt to teleport a dog across the room, they’re confused as to why it takes over 5 hours to reappear.  Ethan gets the answer when he attempts to use the machine and sends himself 6 months into the future where he discovers that his wife Tiffany (Devon Ogden) and sister Fiona (Kerry Knuppe) have been brutally murdered and he’s the only suspect.  So, it becomes Ethan’s mission to return to the past, solve the murders before they happen, and absolve himself before he’s even a suspect.

The mystery the story creates is a good one.  I spent the entire movie trying to figure out who could have possibly killed these women, why, or even if it were possible for something to happen that would drive Ethan to actually commit the murders like in Minority Report.  The movie kept me guessing and Ethan’s continued use of the time machine as the story plays out really raised a lot of interesting questions for me about if he could change anything at all in his timeline or if everything is fated to play out exactly as it was meant to be.  It allows the film to build tension to the point of inevitability.

The only real issues with the film are the weak performances.  Michael Kopelow clearly got the lead because he co-wrote the film and I imagine has a prior relationship with the director.  While I think Kopelow is a good writer and I like how he structured this film, and he’s not a terrible actor, but just not the strongest I’m sure they could have gotten.  It feels like nepotism and the film suffers for it.

The other glaring issue I had with the film is the cinematography.  There are a ton of zooms and pans that do nothing but reveal how amateur the filmmakers really are.  Everything is shot like a Wes Anderson movie but without the vibrant color and attention to every minute detail.  Those visual elements in Anderson’s work make the unusual camera movements charming and whimsical.  Here, they’re just distracting.

Overall I recommend the film if you’re a fan of time travel stuff.  It won’t blow your mind or change your life, but there’s a lot to like here.

Available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Artsploitation Films.

About the Author:

Joe Sanders Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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