Director: Dean Israelite.
Cast: Jonny Weston, Sofia Black D'Elia, Sam Lerner, Allen Evangelista, Virginia Gardner.
|It truly was an impressive toaster.|
Aside from these good demonstrations of what you can do with a shakily held camera, there have been dozens of lesser ones, most of which are horror films of the "we found a killer's video camera" variety or one of the countless spin-offs/prequels/sequels of the Paranormal Activity series.
Project Almanac is certainly not a great movie, but at least it's a different take on the found footage genre. In it we have a bunch of teenagers who have a penchant for filming everything (naturally) and a gift for science... oh, and they also have in their basement the instructions for how to build a working time machine.
The clumsy set-up (there's more to it than that, but not much) is a necessary hurdle the film has to jump before it can get into the question at the heart of its premise - what would you do if you had a time machine?
As with the party-to-end-all-parties found footage film Project X, Project Almanac's best element is its wish fulfilment. Most of the movie is breezy and enjoyable as we follow the five friends as they live out their increasingly daring desires, and although the characters are under-developed, they're good company and provide a few good laughs.
But naturally the resulting consequences of getting what you want come into play, as the usual time travel movie issue - cause and effect - starts to demonstrate the unexpected ripples that follow a dive-bomb into the space-time continuum.
As such, it's an incredibly predictable film. You know that the minute they make a set of rules to follow, someone will break them, and you know that their efforts to undo what they have done will create more things to undo. The result is a film that never surprises you and does little to stick out in your memory, unlike such great time travel films as Looper, Back To The Future or 12 Monkeys.
And as with many found footage films, the need to squeeze in particular plot points and explanatory dialogue means there are quite a few "why would anyone film this?" moments. The best example of this is in the first act - an introduction that's as shaky as the majority of the footage - that ends up being distracting.
When it gets going, Project Almanac is mildly enjoyable, with a few cool special effects and good ideas (particularly the ending), but largely it's predictable, under-developed and ultimately forgettable.