Time Lapse is not your standard Time Travel fare. Instead it creates a creepy, suspenseful vibe letting the viewer wonder if the characters have any free will, or if they are forever destined to be slaves to a neighbors’ invention.
Roommates Callie, Finn and Jasper discover that their neighbor has a series of polaroids plastered on his wall from the past few weeks depicting the image of their living room. While creepy, things don’t seem that weird until a large machine spits out a new image. The roommates are in the image, which leads them to realize that the machine is taking pictures 24 hours into the future, every evening at 8pm.
From this point on, Jasper, a gambling and drug addict, decides to use the device for his own gains. Finn, an artist, notices that each photo has a new painting of his in it, and uses the images to help ease his mental block. His girlfriend Callie, appears to be along for the ride, but is actually realizing that she and her boyfriend Finn are getting closer. Each character gains something from the future photos. Each also believes that like the original owner, whose corpse they discovered, that any attempt to change the events in the image will result in their death, much like their neighbor.
The film is a clever enough setup, with minimal actors and locations, that shows the spiral into madness that these minute glimpses into the future cause. Jasper goes further than the others, willing to commit murder just to keep up with the photos, as they seem to tell the trio what to do.
It also opens up the case for fate vs free will on the trio. They discuss not doing what the images show, and every time they still are present for the events depicted in the photo they received the night before. In the end, fate runs the roost as every picture the trio encounters come to pass, but maybe not in the way that they initially interpret it.
Is Time Lapse a time travel film? Not in the strictest sense, as no characters travel in time. But the trio is presented with images from a possible (maybe the only) future. To me this stands as time travel as they are getting a glimpse into their own future, whether traveling there or not.
Watching this film, I got a sense of another, better, thriller, called Shallow Grave (1994), about a trio of friends who commit murder and then attempt to cover it up. Time Lapse was gripping enough, and the final twist was surprising, but I found myself second-guessing the events long before they happened. In fact, I think my twist would have been a better ending!