) is a 2007 Spanish science fiction film, written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo, and starring Karra Elejalde, Bárbara Goenaga and Jon Iciarte.
Hector is moving into a new house. While his wife, Clara, is out buying dinner, Hector sees something in the woods behind the house and goes to investigate. He finds an unconscious, naked woman, and is then attacked by a faceless man in a black coat. Fleeing further into the woods, Hector takes refuge in a seemingly-empty laboratory, and meets the one technician remaining on the premises after-hours. The technician convinces Hector to hide in a machine—as suggested by the film's title, this device turns out to be a Time Machine
that sends Hector an hour into the past.
Then, it gets worse
This film provides examples of:
- Bandaged Face
- Brick Joke: After finding out the man in bandages is the future protagonist, several key plot points are reavealed to be either due to luck, chance or the stupidity of the characters; Hector 2's looking back at Hector 1 is guessed, and only happens because of repeated attempts and luck; the young girl's involvement is entirely due to her kindness and chance; Hector 2's stupidity causes him to mistake the girl for his wife and accidentally kill her, which is revealed to be crucial to closing the time loop.
- Future Me Scares Me: Or, more precisely, Future Me stabs Present Me in the arm with scissors, and chases Present Me around a forest, causing Present Me to end up in the time machine in the first instance.
- Genre Blind: Hector is clearly unfamiliar with even the concept of time travel, and seems to regard his past self as a completely separate person.
- Idiot Ball: Hector is holding one for much of the movie, but it reaches a peak when Hector 2, rather than laying low and waiting for Hector 1 to enter the lab, pursues the girl into his house. While Hector 2's prior actions were questionable, most of them were attempts to make events play out as they had before, closing the Stable Time Loop. Not so when he goes back to his house—he has no reason to think that he did this action in the previous loop, and no idea what the consequences will be. As it turns out, the time loop does remain closed, but only because of his own stupidity.
- The Law of Conservation of Detail: Adhered to thoroughly.
- Male Gaze: played with; used as a MacGuffin.
- Minimalist Cast
- Mood Whiplash: The final scene is very bleak. Then the credits roll, with Blondie's "Picture This" playing over them.
- My Future Self and Me
- Once More with Clarity: Observing the girl stripping nude is quite surprising to the hero at first. The scene starts to make sense only later, when we switch the perspective and get the bigger picture.
- The Reveal: A few of them.
- Stable Time Loop
- Temporal Paradox: Of the "ontological paradox" variety. The whole film. Essentially, Hector 3 is the one who gets the whole thing started, but Hector 1 has to have gone back in time to make a Hector 3 in the first place.
- Tricked Out Time: Much of the movie is Hector setting up the events he has already witnessed.
- Wham Line: "You weren't the first to leave the machine."
- You Already Changed The Past: the central premise.