Film festivals. As places where you get the chance to see a movie before most anyone else, film festivals have always intrigued me. With most of today’s theatrical endeavors, you are bombarded with so much marketing that you have preconceived notions before even viewing the end product. So when we are friends over at Artsploitation Films asked us to review a new film Counter Clockwise, I was instantly excited to jump in. Counter Clockwise is a sci-fi thriller, with some mystery and dark comedy elements. I know that sounds like a lot of different genres, but it wouldn’t be prudent to leave any of those out.
We jump right into the film with lead character Ethan, who had me picturing a slightly younger Brian Posehn throughout the whole movie. Then again, this film is based on time travel… just maybe… never mind, I am getting ahead of myself (intentional time travel pun). Ethan is working on the final preparations of a teleportation device with his partner Ceil. I instantly began to dislike Ethan because they decide to experiment on Charlie the One Eyed Dog; there must be a million other options before sending your trustworthy companion through the machine. Luckily, Ethan becomes more likable as the film goes along, which is helped by the fact that Charlie survives and reappears a few hours later. Before he does though, we see Ethan going home to his lovely wife, who may be pregnant and might be one of the most stunning actresses I have seen in a long time. I had wondered how Ethan was able to marry a woman so seemingly out of his league until I remembered he is brilliant and built a time machine (much to my chagrin). Then again, he set out to build a teleportation device not a time machine.
After a few hours, Ethan sees Charlie reappear and goes back to the lab. He decides to not tell his partner, forgets about any responsibilities to his possibly pregnant wife, and just jumps straight into testing the machine on himself, with no regard to anyone who might need him if something went wrong. Luckily, the computer is fully calibrated to the human body once he injects the tracking chip into his arm, and he can leap right in without worrying about many silly calibrations.
Somehow he reappears into the lab where all the electronics are powered off and covered with sheets. Apparently the machine is not needed to return? He of course is accused of trespassing and chased by security. Between him being a bigger man and assuming he doesn’t exercise much being a scientist in the lab all day, he can book it and outrun so many people in this film. He has the speed of Usain Bolt and the stamina of Ron Jeremy. Shortly after his emergence, he discovers six months have passed and he is the number one suspect in the murder of his wife and sister, which occurred on the day he left/disappeared.
Everything said above happens in the first twenty minutes of the film and leaves a ton of story left to explore as I don’t want to spoil such a new film. Will Ethan find the murderer? Was Ethan somehow responsible? Will he use the time machine to make things worse? Will there be points where he has to dodge his current self? If you are familiar with time travel movies you will certainly notice most of the common tropes and themes apparent throughout. The dark comedy aspect of it certainly adds something different. Unfortunately, the comedic tone isn’t really obvious until the second half of the film, and makes it feel like you are watching two distinct films instead of one fluid offering. There are also some questionable quick cuts and some very strange choices on cinematic shots. Because this film isn’t out in theaters for a few months, I watched a streaming version on my PC versus a disc on my home theater. This lead me to use some 7.1 Surround Sound headphones. In the middle parts of the film there are some voices and dialogue that was really loud and made me have to keep adjusting the volume. I would assume the film is still in editing and things like that will be cleaned up for the final version.
It should come as no surprise that this is not a big budget movie and stays on a fairly small scale. Being a fan of these types of film, I feel that quite a bit was extracted from each scene and set pieces and doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the movie.
Overall, I feel like Counter Clockwise is a slow burn and takes a little bit long to gear up and get going. The different tone of the film between the two halves may also turn away some viewers. Having said that, those that want something different and/or want to mix genres will be in for a pleasant surprise. I can easily see this film being a future cult classic down the road and something to watch with friends.
You can pre-order the DVD here.