"puts a fresh spin on this prominent sub-genre"
Paradoxical mayhem and time travelling tropes are rife throughout Dean Israelite’s debut feature that combines irksome found-footage and absorbing sci-fi.
Ultimately, being a vastly superior mix of Project X, Chronicle and About Time, Project Almanac is a self-aware tribute to the multifaceted time travel genre. The narrative centres on small band of high school misfits whose lives radically change when group member David Raskin (Jonny Weston) uncovers the blue prints for a temporal relocation device in his attic. Alongside his sister, Christina (Virginia Gardner), the siblings determine that the partial time machine is the legacy of their late father, whose untimely, tragic death occurred 10 years prior.
Realising this revolutionary device could be the answer to his college funding woes, David sets about compiling the components needed to fulfil his Dad’s uncompleted venture. Many fried batteries and stolen hydrogen canisters later, the gaggle of teenagers cautiously test to see whether they have truly mastered the dimensions of time and space. This selfie-loving generation capture every dramatic moment on an infuriatingly shaky smartphone that’ll have you yelling for someone to find a tripod ASAP.
Decisive in leaving major historical events untouched, "You have to kill Hitler, that's like time travel 101" chirps Quinn (Sam Lerner); each member sets about rectifying their social status. Every shallow manipulation of time entraps the group deeper into a world of narcissism, obsessed with societal standing and ill-gotten gains through their lottery winnings. Producer Michael Bay leaves his trademark leering fingerprints in several scenes with uncomfortably overlong shots of multiple teenage girls in damp skimpy bikinis, ensuring the male gaze is a permanent sleazy fixture.
From Groundhog Day to Doctor Who, Andrew Deutschman’s script is peppered with winking nods to time travelling icons. Whilst these movie-literate students spout off film quotes at any given opportunity, they ironically fail to recognise the potentially lethal consequences of time hopping. Despite the myriad of clichéd flaws and an exasperatingly high level of product placement, Project Almanac puts a fresh spin on this prominent sub-genre.