'Time Trap': Seattle International Film Festival movie review

'Time Trap': Seattle International Film Festival movie review

 'Time Trap' screens at the 43rd Seattle International Film Festival.  (Image courtesy of Seattle International Film Festival / used with permission)

'Time Trap' screens at the 43rd Seattle International Film Festival. (Image courtesy of Seattle International Film Festival / used with permission)

The time-bending science fiction flick "Time Trap" (world premiering at the 2017 Seattle International Film Festival on May 19) is a smart, entertaining and lean adventure that grips from start to finish.

In short: A group of archaeology students, searching for their missing teacher, become trapped in an odd cave - a place where time passes as a different rate than the outside world.

The key to why "Time Trap" works is its absolute commitment to its premise - and like all great science fiction, the primary conceit serves the character and story. The film uses its fairly simple high-concept notion (a cave where time passes faster outside the cave than inside) to present an unrelenting threat to the characters. The stakes are raised with each passing second any character is inside the cave. The simple act of quickly entering and leaving the cave has critical consequences for those inside and outside the cave. "Time Trap" firmly establishes how important the stakes are to the characters and makes every second count.

While anyone vaguely familiar with relative time can appreciate how well the film plays with time and space, the appeal of "Time Trap" is the fact that it never talks down to the audience. It leaves a tantalizing trail of clues that keeps the audience constantly engaged, while also allowing any viewer to keep up with the implications of the cave's time distortion. This film respects the viewer's intelligence much in the way Christopher Nolan trusted audiences would be able to keep up with "Inception" or "Interstellar."

For a film that is barely 90 minutes long, "Time Trap" is packed with unexpected twists and turns. What initially starts out as a straightforward rescue expedition quickly becomes a daunting sci-fi mystery fraught with surprising threats around every corner. Dangers that threaten the lives of the main characters and endanger their ability to get back home. The joy of "Time Trap" is how utterly impossible it is to guess what will happen next. And its relatively short running time is another strength of "Time Trap" - this is a lean and focused film with very little fat on it.

Final verdict: "Time Trap" is definitive proof that a film can be fun without sacrificing brains and smart without condescending to the audience. 

Score: 4/5

"Time Trap" screens at the 43rd Seattle International Film Festival. The sci-fi adventure is not yet rated and has a running time of 90 minutes.

 'Time Trap' screens at the 43rd Seattle International Film Festival.  (Image courtesy of Seattle International Film Festival / used with permission)

'Time Trap' screens at the 43rd Seattle International Film Festival. (Image courtesy of Seattle International Film Festival / used with permission)

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SIFF 2017 interview: 'Time Trap' filmmakers discuss their sci-fi adventure

SIFF 2017 interview: 'Time Trap' filmmakers discuss their sci-fi adventure