I’ve long considered time-travel to be one of my all-time favourite sub-genres. While it remains possible to explore the outer reaches of space (eventually) or plumb the darkest depths of the ocean, the temporal realm remains just beyond our reach. But judging by the results of various science fiction scenarios over the years, that’s likely all for the best.
Still, I admit I sometimes fantasize about travelling to the past, witnessing eras before my time, and perhaps placing a few well-chosen sporting bets (Marty McFly had the right idea) to enable a life of luxury not possible for the average man in the present. But even time-travelling for a lark can have consequences as told in editor-turned-director Luke Higginson’s debut film Relax, I’m from the Future.
Adapting his 2013 short film of the same name, Higginson opens his story with a bang as future man Casper (Rhys Darby) pops out of a random time portal into cold, inhospitable present-day Hamilton, Ontario. Armed with only limited knowledge of our era and sorely lacking in planning skills, Casper looks to end up homeless if not for the free-spirited Holly (Gabriel Graham) who takes pity on the wayward traveller and allows him to crash at her ridiculously large “only-in-the-movies” loft.
Upon becoming fast friends, Casper lets Holly in on his secret and that he’s on a specific mission from the future involving the fate of a soon-to-famous cartoonist (Julian Richings) that will have global consequences in the coming decades. Securing her help with his convenient knowledge of winning lottery tickets (“but nothing life-changing” he warns), Casper proceeds with his vague plan, securing an underground bunker and collecting random bits of pop culture knowledge.
But his plan is soon derailed by the arrival of future government agent Doris (a delightfully scene-chewing Janine Theriault), who has little patience for Casper’s mission or any insignificant present-day denizens on the wrong side of her disintegrator ray. When future missions collide and threaten the stability of the entire timeline, Casper realises he may have to jump through another time portal to fix his mess that threatens the whole space-time continuum.
Higginson was an editor long before assuming the director’s chair and it shows. There’s nary an ounce of fat on this high concept story, clocking in at a trim 88 minutes sans credits. He also capably keeps the plot’s multiple, time-bending, balls in the air, never confusing the audience while also keeping them hooked.
The film is rocket-fueled by its cast with Darby lighting up the screen as the hopelessly-out-of-his-depth Casper who treats time travel more like a kid in a candy store than a man on a mission. Graham injects a startling amount of life into what could’ve been a bland straight-(wo)man role as Holly who swiftly realises there’s a lot more to the space-time continuum than a handful of winning scratch tickets.
Relax is a film that despite the apparent high stakes, doesn’t take itself too seriously and is all the better for it. With nearly every IP clamouring to travel through time or craft a merchandise-friendly multi-verse for their franchises, it’s refreshing to see that the time-travel genre still has ample life left in it.
Relax, I’m From The Future releases theatrically nationwide on Oct 6