Film run-time: 8 minutes | Starring Ewa Placzynska, Mel Hoy, Richard Boylan
Written and Directed by Richard Boylan, Produced by Mel Hoy, Sound by Thomas Thompson
“Timelike“, a 2015 short film by Richard Boylan, is a science fiction story that pits the fear of the unknown against the familiarity of a family home; a place that seems increasingly encroached on by an ominous force threatening to tear the edifice apart. This force, immense in scope and suggestively apocalyptic, seems intrinsically tied to a letter which a stranger, Chloe, delivers to the protagonist, Madeline, to write; a letter supposedly written by Madeline herself. Madeline and her boyfriend are celebrating the occasion of her university acceptance, and the pair have wine and record themselves with a handheld camcorder. All goes well until, mid-conversation, they are interrupted by a stranger at the door, who has an unsettling revelation.
Through choice close-ups and enigmatic statements, Boylan teases out aspects of the story which serve to furnish the sparse narrative; Madeline is revealed to have been accepted into the Department of Physics; the letter is hinted at containing an upsetting truth, possibly of time travel; most importantly, the couple’s moment of celebration is repeated continuously, in quickening succession, as though time has rewound itself and they are living through the moment again—with the noted exception of an impending danger which amplifies on every cycle, a phenomenon that can almost be interpreted as a literal generation loss, that peppers the atmosphere with artifacts of destruction.
From a subconscious standpoint, the film utilizes to great effect the qualities of claustrophobia, harnessing a space which strands its characters by circumstance, and an archaic medium that not only allows for visual disfigurement and tight framing, but has in itself an association of truthfulness which dares supersede our conscious logic. Although “Timelike” offers no closure or conclusive answers, the film’s power may rest in its very mystery—these characters are faced with an open-ended terror, and as prisoners of a mechanism they have no control over, they are condemned to perpetuate this motion until their inevitable disintegration, a possibility which conjures up an abysmal fear.