By Elias Savada.
A dirge-worthy film, chock full of familial doom and gloom….If you like despondency and depression, here’s an indie effort that doses it out in large quantities.”
Spencer King, the writer and director of Time Now, has crafted a dirge-worthy film, chock full of familial doom and gloom. Cloudy skies are just one piece of the film’s oppressive atmosphere. The cinematography by Sean Mouton is quite dark, the score by Evan Bishton overly depressing, and the film, being pushed as a borderline thriller, not nearly as much as you expect if you watched the rapid-drumming trailer.
If you like despondency and depression, here’s an indie effort that doses it out in large quantities. King’s bits-and-pieces storytelling approach leaves you guessing how the film, accompanied with bits of flashbacks to fill in the gaps, will play out. Be warned, it’s a downer.
This Detroit-based tale is about a set of triplets — the older sister, Jenny (Eleanor Lambert), and her two brothers, Andrew and Victor (Sebastian Beacon). Both the boys are no longer alive, so there a sense of loss draped over the film like a thick fog. Andrew’s death some years earlier has apparently caused the rift that sent Jenny “up north,” while Victor’s recent passing in a car crash has brought her reluctantly home. She’d rather stay estranged from them all, but she has plenty of her own problems to deal with, including a two-timing husband, Mark, that she’d rather not have to deal with.
Long absent from her family’s sphere of influence, Jenny heads home with her young son, Andrew, in tow. Her return is barely heralded by her scornful mom, Helen (Jeannine Thompson), who casts dispersions that the prodigal daughter did not live up to the older child’s responsibility to watch over her younger siblings. It’s not doubt who mom blames for Andrew’s death, and perhaps Victor’s as well. “And you had the nerve to name your kid after my son!,” the spiteful, martini-drinking mother spits out in a steely welcome.
As for Jenny’s dad (Peter Knox), who is no longer living with Helen, he obviously still connects on a more civil level with the daughter, even if he’s just a small part of the film. Jenny’s church-going aunt Joan (Claudia Black) is friendlier, but the entire family dynamic is still caustic, so Jenny decides her best shelter is the empty home where Victor had lived.
Ultimately, Jenny carries too much baggage of her own as the film winds down. Then again, it seems like everyone has issues here.”
Clues are strewn about the place — his iPhone, some photos, an artisanal lunchbox — that help her figure out the state of Victor’s existence and allow her to discover her brother’s friends and their involvement with his death.
The last 2/3rds of the film’s 90 minutes delve into the brother’s friends, Kash (Xxavier Polk), with a fresh facial scar that’s missing in his numerous flashbacks, and Tanja (Paige Kendrick). They are both part of the low key, local art scene for which Victor provided abstract artwork under the pen name Gonzo.
Ultimately, Jenny carries too much baggage of her own as the film winds down. Then again, it seems like everyone has issues here. At least King uses his dialogue in ways that keep you guessing. “No one can blame you for leaving like that…,” Jenny’s father tells her over a cup of tea, so you’re left to wonder how long it will take before the truth is revealed. “Everything will fall in place,” he continues.
The Motor City’s backdrop does provide some nice tonal qualities, with locals able to spot the recognizable skyline and the Corner Ballpark on Michigan Avenue.
King’s sophomore feature, after his 2016 sci-fi drama Black Petunia, is an unsettling affair, full of slow-moving camera takes, a few too many drone shots, some mildly disquieting sound design (Vinny Alfano), and a few, unnecessary blood-soaked, nightmarish visions.
Lambert, the daughter of Diane Lane and Christopher Lambert, carries her first starring role quite well. She handles despair just fine. I hope she smiles in her next role.
Death hangs over Time Now like a pall. If you want an all-immersive bleak experience, the film has already been released in On Demand and a handful of “select” theaters.
Elias Savada is a movie copyright researcher, critic, craft beer geek, and avid genealogist based in Bethesda, Maryland. He helps program the Spooky Movie International Movie Film Festival, and previously reviewed for Film Threat and Nitrate Online. He is an executive producer of the horror film German Angst and the documentary Nuts! He co-authored, with David J. Skal, Dark Carnival: the Secret World of Tod Browning (a revised edition will be published by Centipede Press).