Stars: Anthony Mackie, Jamie Dornan, Ally Ioannides, Katie Aselton
Following their flawed but enigmatic and genuinely unsettling picture, ‘The Endless’ in which a pair of brothers returned to the UFO Cult in which they were raised, the latest from directing duo Benson and Moorhead, with its name stars and larky moments, feels like a swing for commercial success, Alas, while it still boasts some memorably trippy passages, the end result is a tonally uncertain muddle of cerebral sci-fi and pulpy buddy movie.
It begins strongly with a sequence in which New Orleans paramedics Steve (Mackie) and Dennis (Dornan) are called out to a dilapidated house where the various occupants are under the effects of some mysterious drug, one of them impaled on an antique sword, while the camera drifts and sways above the room to disorienting effect. It’s the first of several incidents the duo encounter, where the victims turn out to be under the influence of Synchronic, a drug with seemingly time-warping abilities, which can also change the user’s physical environment, even allowing them to bring back physical souvenirs from their trip. When Dennis’ daughter Brianna (Ioannides) goes missing after taking the drug at a party, Steve, who has recently been diagnosed with a brain tumour and feels he has nothing to lose, decides to try and track her down by ingesting the drug. Several trippy sequences follow, which nod to ‘Get Out’ and ‘Lovecraft County’ as Steve encounters various inhospitable characters from New Orleans’ past.
By this time, the impressively haunting and dour feel has been abandoned in favour of lurid visuals and misfiring comedic notes, while the more revealed about the drug and its effects, the less the plot holds up to any scrutiny. Mackie and Dornan at least make an appealingly gruff couple, even if Dornan is sidelined for long stretches.
‘Synchronic’ is available on digital from 29th January.
Follow David on @DWill_Crackfilm