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Film / Time Lapse

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"You think time did this? That he was somehow punished for trying to change the future?"
Dr. Heidecker

Time Lapse is a 2014 sci-fi thriller focused on the trio of Finn, his girlfriend Callie and his best friend Jasper. Living together in the same apartment in a building complex Finn manages, they discover a machine in an elderly man's apartment when they check up on his possible disappearance.

Bearing a camera, this machine has been taking pictures through the large window of the trio's living room one day in advance. At first they use this to their financial advantage, but soon enough disturbing events are portrayed in their future.

Has nothing to do with the 1996 adventure game of the same name.

The film provides examples of:

  • Anyone Can Die: In the end, only Callie and her arresting officer Joe make it out alive. Finn, Jasper, Dr. Heidecker, Ivan and Marcus all die.
  • Artifact of Doom: The machine directly or indirectly leads to the death or ruination of anyone who uses or has knowledge of it, including its inventor.
  • Asshole Victim: All three of the main characters fall into this category. Finn is distant and kind of an ass, Jasper is shifty and constantly urges the three to keep using the machine, and Callie manipulates the other two into getting killed.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Mr. B's invention is a camera that can take pictures of the distant future which the trio exploits for racing results and getting out of an artist's block. However, there are several limitations like the camera being not exactly portable due to its bulkiness and how it's bolted to the floor, it only snaps one photo of the open window of the trio's living room at a fixed timing every day and whatever happens in the photos cannot be changed.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • Finn wants his artist's block to end but becomes a slave to paint whatever he's created in the photograph and frustrated that he still can't find any inspiration outside of the photos.
    • Jasper wants to win it big at the races, instead of always losing, but winning all the time draws the suspicions of his scumbag bookie and makes things worse for all involved.
    • Finally, Callie wants her relationship with Finn to break out of its rut and there are eventually signs of improvement until Finn realises she's been manipulating events for exactly this purpose, breaks off their engagement and she ends up killing him.
  • Broken Pedestal: In the final act, Finn realises he has taken Callie and much of his good fortune for granted, even acknowledging he's been driving her toward Jasper. However, it's revealed Callie has been manipulating Finn from the very moment she found the machine, all in a bid to improve their relationship. Her long-term affair with Jasper, before Callie even knew the machine existed, is also exposed. Finn is horrified and devastated in equal measures.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Jasper doesn't realise that betting on multiple races and always winning would arouse the suspicions of his criminal bookie.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: Finn discovers that Callie has been manipulating the outcome of every single day seen in the film. She was the first in Mr. B's place and discovered a photograph of herself telling her to "hide the daytime photos", as the camera takes a photo both at 8 PM and 8 AM.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • There's a reason why there are daytime photos on the wall and some of the photos are missing.
    • Dr. Heidecker dismisses the notion time directly punishes anyone trying to change it and is promptly murdered. The moment Callie attempts to change what has happened as opposed to manipulating what will happen, she fails in rather spectacular fashion and is arrested for double homicide.
  • Hoist by Her Own Petard: When they initially discover the machine it is Callie that presents the idea that if they try to change the future portrayed in the picture, they risk ceasing to exist. In the final act, Callie comes to reject this notion and believes she can use the machine to undo a past mistake. Finn discovers her manipulation so she kills him to cover it up and attempts to alter the photo of her past self would have received 24 hours earlier. All in an effort to avoid Finn catching her, but still wanting to marry her. It fails and Callie winds up arrested for murder.
  • Irony: Callie tapes a sign on the window reading "DON'T GET CAUGHT AT THE WINDOW" right as officer Joe walks by.
  • Magical Camera: Mr. B's machine is essentially a complex, technological version.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Jasper manages to play on the bookie and his flunky's distrust of each other in order to get in position to kill them both. He's good, but Callie is better.
  • Oh, Crap!: The trio manages to have this reaction each time something drastically changes in the photo from the future, but the biggest moment of this is when the guy that Jasper places bets with shows up in the photo, alone with Jasper. Things only get worse from then on in.
  • Posthumous Character: Mr. Bezzerides' has been dead several days when the story begins.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons:
    • Mr B witnesses an event in the future he feels he must change despite the risks. This is because of the lethal implications it holds for him. He believes a picture is the scene of his own death, due to seeing his hat near a blood-smeared window. Whilst he is correct in assuming he is dead, he actually dies weeks before the image was taken and his hat is there because Jasper brought it over.
    • The group believes Mr. B died trying to change the future and that time itself "corrected" this paradox, hence his gruesome-looking corpse. Whilst trying to change the future was indeed how he died, Mr. Bezzerides was killed by thorium gas and that's why his remains looked so horrifying.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy:
    • The trio invoke this trope after seeing each photograph, fearing the consequences of diverging from the future depicted in the photo.
    • Mr. B kicks off the entire series of events that lead to the photo he believed was his death and instead ironically dies trying to prevent an incident that actually happened long after he died. Afterwards, Callie's secret attempts to manipulate this fact to her own advantage only help bring about the photograph Mr. B was trying to prevent.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: Greed and Sloth.
    • Jasper is obsessed with using the machine to make money, and gets into trouble with his violent bookie.
    • Legal gambling options are available, but they would require him to get off the couch, or at least change his habits.
    • Finn isn't happy with his job as a "glorified janitor," but isn't shown doing anything to change it. He wants to be a painter, but listlessly waits for inspiration to strike, instead of hunting it down.
    • Things would have been very different if Finn had proposed to Callie one year ago when he bought the ring.
  • Stable Time Loop:
    • The camera appears to provide a non-time travel version of ontological paradoxes. Finn paints his paintings because he sees them in the future pictures while he had until then suffered from creative block. The trio also stage each photo so that the camera sees them as they appear in the photo.
    • As Callie's sign falls off of the window in the final scene, it reveals the room as seen in the original photo found by Mr. B, which kicked off the plot in the first place.
  • Temporal Paradox: What happens to the inventor of the camera when they try to change the future photo (or so they think). At one point, Finn stops trying to get out of the house and paints the picture as seen in the photograph, figuring that it has to be there to satisfy the paradox.
  • Time Is Dangerous: The old man's journal states as much leading the trio to go to increasingly disturbing lengths to maintain the future. The group even believes that Bezzerides perished due to trying to alter the future he saw and as such time itself exerted a deadly fail-safe upon him. Dr. Heidecker later points out his gruesome corpse was the result of thorium gas, not violating the laws of time, though it's later revealed his machine was the cause of his end after all and messing with time ruins lives.
    Jasper: Don't fuck with time.
  • Time Travel for Fun and Profit: One of the first things they do is post the results to greyhound races.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Finn, Callie, and Jasper. Finn and Callie are boyfriend and girlfriend, and Jasper lives with them. Then the plot starts. Jasper's greed strains their friendship, and Finn and Callie's relationship is gradually revealed to be more complex than it first seems.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The machine affects in all three main characters in varying degrees.
    • Jasper becomes increasing paranoid and obsessed with the machine not being discovered by anyone else. Eventually, he even kills an innocent woman to keep it secret and imprisons Finn to ensure the photo comes true.
    • Finn becomes fixated on finally having inspiration from his art but also tormented by the fact he still cannot come up with anything without the photos. Eventually, he realises how much he had taken for granted, especially Callie, and simply wants to leave with her. However she's revealed to have been unfaithful and manipulative.
    • Callie seems largely unaffected by the machine, though it places a strain on her relationship with Finn. She's revealed to have been manipulating Finn and Jasper from the very outset, sending secret messages to herself via daytime photos only she knew about. In the end she becomes such a control freak she feels she can even wipe away the fact she was discovered and kills Finn in a bid to stop him ever finding out.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Although she believes she can change the past, Callie's note to her past self falls off the window to reveal the picture that led Mr. B. to his death and made the events in the movie possible in the first place.
  • You Cannot Change The Future: The trio believes that they risk a time paradox that will end their existence, just as it did Mr. Bezzerides, If they fail to replicate the events depicted in the picture.