Project Almanac (2015)

Project Almanac (2015)

Project Almanac tells the story of David, a high school senior who finds components and schematics for a time machine left by his father in his family's basement. He, his sister, and three friends build the machine, innocently testing it at first but later abusing it for their own needs. However, they do not realise the ripples left behind by their actions.

Several films have made great success out of shooting found-footage style cinematography. In The Blair Witch Project, the technique is used to create a claustrophobia that heightens every jump scare, and in Cloverfield it is used as both a clever plot device and adds both a sense of mystery and breathless tension. Despite this success, very few films make the stylistic choice as it can leave the audience disoriented and nauseous when the camera constantly pans in every direction.

Project Almanac's use of the technique is, presumably, reasoned by the use of a camcorder as part of the story, but it is never quite explained why we, as the audience, are forced to watch the whole film through this medium. The shaky camera undoubtedly enhances some of the action, but for some reason during the steadier parts we are often reminded of the found footage by being treated to numerous shots of legs and cleavages before the scene begins - even though David's sister is the character controlling the camera.

There is nothing particularly thought-provoking about the students' actions, who appear guided solely by narcissism and lust, giving the story a hollow and bland feel. However, the film does explore the effect of seeing oneself when travelling back in time and the use of the feedback loop is a nifty but underexplored trick.

And therein lies the problem with Project Almanac. It is summed up by its protagonist. Full of really clever ideas, but completely blinded by testosterone and one-dimensionality undermining the whole concept.

2 stars