Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
The SWITCHCast team reunites for a special episode to celebrate this year's Oscars! Click here to listen now.x
review, Synchronic, Synchronic, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Jamie Dornan, Anthony Mackie, Katie Aselton, Alexia Ioannides, Shane Brady, Bill Oberst Jr, Natasha Tina Liu, Martin Bats Bradford, Devyn A. Tyler, Lawrence Turner, Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi film rating

SYNCHRONIC

★★★

A TIME-TRIPPING SCI-FI DRAMA

THEATRICAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Jake Watt
24th January 2021

Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead have always pushed the interplay between the lead characters to the forefront of their bare-bones budgeted sci-fi/horror films, whether its a pair of lovers getting to know each other ('Spring'), two best friends trapped together ('Resolution'), or brothers revisiting their childhood trauma ('The Endless'). It made me curious to see how they'd treat the leads of 'Synchronic', the creative duo's biggest budget film so far - and the first with a well-known cast.

Anthony Mackie ('Avengers: Endgame', 'Seberg') and Jamie Dornan ('Wild Mountain Thyme', 'Robin Hood') star, respectively, as Steve and Dennis, best buds and paramedics who have seen some odd things working the night shift in New Orleans. Now there's a new drug causing havoc on the streets. It's called Synchronic, a synthetic compound (made from the same red flower that appeared in 'The Endless', one of several throwback references) that reduces an unlucky woman to ashes and turns another guy into a grinning face atop a pile of dismembered limbs at the bottom of a motel elevator shaft. The creeping dread and eerie score in these scenes harks back to another bizarre acid-fried horror film, Jeff Lieberman's 'Blue Sunshine'.

'SYNCHRONIC' TRAILER

Things really start to get complicated when Dennis' 18-year-old daughter, Brianna (Ally Ioannides), gets involved, vanishing from a deck chair after taking a dose of Synchronic at a party. In the wake of her disappearance, Steve buys up the remaining supply of the drug. Due to a unique set of medical circumstances, he learns that he can somewhat control its reality-warping side effects and begins to form a plan to find the teenager. This is where the film starts to pull in threads about the pineal gland, and time travel, and so on. The plot gets so busy that screenwriter Benson abruptly introduces a character who delivers a slab of exposition before quickly disappearing again.

I'm a big fan of Benson and Moorhead's work and the profound, humanist approach of their style of horror. 'Resolution' had some genuinely unnerving moments and ideas, a few rough edges, and a conclusion I found conceptually interesting, if not satisfying. I adored 'Spring' because I connected with it on some personal levels, loved it as a creepy romance story, and was genuinely impressed by the quality of the production. I found 'The Endless' more satisfying than 'Resolution', pulling off the weird moments and ideas with finesse. Like other genre-bending horror movies such as 'Get Out', 'A Quiet Place' and 'Hereditary', their films are visceral but also have intellectual and emotional jolts, which is refreshing in a landscape where mega-franchises have a stranglehold on cinema audiences.

Like their previous films, 'Synchronic' has little interest in following horror rules and expectations, the mechanics which are often deemed to make genre work inferior. What puts 'Synchronic' ahead of many indie genre films of its type is not only Moorhead's skill as a cinematographer, but also the judicious way in which he and Benson apply their larger-than-usual budget. The film does rely on CGI to visualise its supernatural elements, but these are applied subtly enough that there are only a couple of shots that look fake enough to be distracting, and the filmmakers alternate them with striking shots of the prehistoric countryside, icy tundras, Civil War battlegrounds and some good old-fashioned in-camera trickery. The film also displays some real heart as it puts love and relationships through the cosmic horror thresher.

What puts 'Synchronic' ahead of many indie genre films of its type is not only Moorhead's skill as a cinematographer, but also the judicious way in which he and Benson apply their budget.

However, 'Syncronic' isn't quite the huge leap forward that you'd expect from the creative pair. Despite the bigger budget, the locations feel underpopulated. This is fine during the scenes set in twilight hour New Orleans, but Steve's journeys through time are equally as empty. The marquee-friendly actors create an even more unusual problem: it slightly cracks the immersion of the Moorhead/Benson universe, which is usually filled out with a cast of unknown actors.

For example: whenever I'm watching a movie featuring the Wilhelm Scream, it never fails to yank me out of the fictitious world I've immersed myself in - my suspension of disbelief is immediately replaced with the realisation that I'm witnessing something artificial.

The same thing happens when I see certain actors appear on screen. When Natasha Lyonne showed up in the terrific 'Ad Astra', all I could think was, "There's Natasha Lyonne," and it totally ruined any impact her scenes might have had on me. I can watch an actor play the same character over and over (Michael Douglas and George Clooney come to mind), but if I see, say, Samuel L. Jackson wander into frame, or Andrew Garfield appear in anything other than 'Boy A', all I can think about is the fact that I'm watching a movie. Unfortunately, the same thing occurs with Mackie in 'Synchronic'. He isn't bad - in fact, he's warm, sympathetic and has great chemistry with the surprisingly laid-back Dornan - but he's a little too big for a film this small. It's distracting. Perhaps we can blame that on the ubiquity of Marvel movies.

With every film they make, Moorhead and Benson refine their genre-bending, unapologetically cerebral style, and 'Synchronic' is no exception. While it does feel like a smaller step forward in terms of ambition, it isn't a waste of time. Even if they only pull at an interesting thread and don't fully unravel it, it's still more unique than most other genre movies you'll see.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: 11/02/2021
RUN TIME: 1h 42m
CAST: Jamie Dornan
Anthony Mackie
Katie Aselton
Alexia Ioannides
Shane Brady
Bill Oberst Jr
Natasha Tina Liu
Martin Bats Bradford
Devyn A. Tyler
Lawrence Turner
DIRECTORS: Aaron Moorhead
Justin Benson
WRITER: Justin Benson
PRODUCERS: Michael Mendelsohn
Aaron Moorhead
Justin Benson
David Clarke Lawson Jr
SCORE: Jimmy Lavalle
SynchronicMovie
SynchronicMovie
SynchronicMovie
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Pocahontas - 25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
Cosmic Sin - A film that delivers on the promise of its title
TRENDINGCOSMIC SINA film that delivers on the promise of its title
Finding You - Fighting for love
TRENDINGWIN FINDING YOUFighting for love
Revisiting 'Dark City' 20 years later - The most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
The Violin Player - Sex and strings
TRENDINGTHE VIOLIN PLAYERSex and strings
Spiral: From the Book of Saw - Twisted justice from the original team
TRENDINGWIN SPIRAL: FROM THE BOOK OF SAWTwisted justice from the original team
25 Free-to-Watch Short Horror Films - The scariest shorts we uncovered online
TRENDING25 FREE-TO-WATCH SHORT HORROR FILMSThe scariest shorts we uncovered online
River's Edge - The kids aren't alright
TRENDINGRIVER'S EDGEThe kids aren't alright
The Land Before Time - 30th anniversary of a breathtaking animated masterpiece
TRENDINGTHE LAND BEFORE TIME30th anniversary of a breathtaking animated masterpiece
Gallipoli - A powerful and important film remembered
TRENDINGGALLIPOLIA powerful and important film remembered
Golden Voices - Immigration struggles with amusing challenges
TRENDINGGOLDEN VOICESImmigration struggles with amusing challenges
The Keeper - The true story of the Nazi goalkeeper and the English girl
TRENDINGTHE KEEPERThe true story of the Nazi goalkeeper and the English girl
Wet Woman in the Wind - A sexy struggle for conquest
TRENDINGWET WOMAN IN THE WINDA sexy struggle for conquest
De Gaulle - Historical biopic on Free French leader
TRENDINGDE GAULLEHistorical biopic on Free French leader
Fatale - Potential to be a truly electric thriller
TRENDINGFATALEPotential to be a truly electric thriller
Waterloo - An epic recreation of the legendary battle
TRENDINGWATERLOOAn epic recreation of the legendary battle
Locked Down - Far from pandemic perfection
TRENDINGLOCKED DOWNFar from pandemic perfection
Cross The Line - A gritty descent into a feverish hell
TRENDINGCROSS THE LINEA gritty descent into a feverish hell
About Endlessness - A magical journey through Roy Andersson's field of dreams
TRENDINGABOUT ENDLESSNESSA magical journey through Roy Andersson's field of dreams
The World at War - The landmark documentary series restored in high definition
TRENDINGTHE WORLD AT WARThe landmark documentary series restored in high definition
© 2011 - 2021 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!