M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Five of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2014 and going through September 30, 2015. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Released on June 9, 2015. Available On Demand, digital download, and Blu-ray/DVD! Also streaming on Tubi!
Directed by Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig
Written by Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig (screenplay), Robert A. Heinlein (from the story “All You Zombies”)
Starring Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor, Elise Jansen, Cate Wolfe, Freya Stafford, Alexis Fernandez, Christopher Kirby, Rob Jenkins, Madeleine West, Jim Knobeloch, Ben Prendergast
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
I’ve seen PREDESTINATION numerous times now, and I can safely say that no other film blew my mind as hard as this film did so far this year. When the Spierig Brothers burst on the scene with UNDEAD, I wasn’t one of those who threw praises at the filmmaking team as I felt UNDEAD was kind of a mismatched mess of a film with admittedly cool ideas, but they were tossed together with little finesse or reason. Things looked better with DAYBREAKERS, an ambitious film about a world overcome by vampires searching for blood to sustain them. This one was much more fine-tuned and filled with all sorts of metaphor. It also had Ethan Hawke, which is usually a plus to have in your movie. The Spierig Brothers bring back Hawke for PREDESTINATION, and it’s their finest film to date and proof positive that these guys are the real deal, capable of testing the limits of our imagination and beyond. PREDESTINATION may not be textbook horror, but it does involve some nightmarish scenarios, a creative and imaginative script (inspired by Robert A. Heinlein’s short story), and a story structure that is full of thrills and twisted moments.
It’s hard to talk about this film without spoiling the multiple brain-fucks it tosses at you throughout the entire film. The story is about time travel and focuses on one particular agent (Hawke) as he embarks on the mission of his life. The organization Hawke works for tweaks time in order to save lives and rights certain wrongs that have occurred. As soon as time travel is invented there’s going to be a cleanup crew needed in order to fix the messes that occur, and Hawke is that guy. One particular mess is an anarchist the media has dubbed the Fizzle Bomber. This madman’s terrorist attacks have killed thousands of people, and Hawke is dead set on stopping him by stopping the first domino that sets off a sequence of events that lead to the Fizzle Bomber’s creation. Supervised by the enigmatic Mr. Robertson, Hawke uses a time machine in the shape of a violin case to travel back and forth through time on his missions. Along the way, he meets a man named John who has a story to tell. Of course, this story has a lot to do with the case Hawke is on.
I can’t…I won’t reveal any more as the surprises that occur on Hawke’s trip are just too fun to ruin. Having seen the film twice, I’ve kept in mind the sequence the film is told in and at least to me, it all makes sense. And just making this complex and loopy tale of time travel all work out is a testament to the Spierig Brothers’ skill as storytellers. They reveal only one card at a time in this loaded deck of a movie, each reveal building into the next and culminating in a climax that will leave you breathless.
Now, I am not a fan of time travel films. I prefer my stories to have some kind of grounding in order for me to become fully invested in them. The story (which was originally by Robert A. Heinlein called “All You Zombies”) really does a fantastic job of explaining the parameters of time travel in a way that both makes sense and is easy to understand. Even though this film travels to multiple time periods and multiple locales, I was never lost. This has everything to do with the Spierig Brothers’ filmmaking might, keeping us focused on Hawke most of the time as the central touch point.
Through Hawke, we experience everything. He grounds us and his presence is the only thing really keeping this film together. Hawke delivers so much subtlety to this performance that you can only appreciate on a second viewing once you know all of this film’s secrets. His mannerisms, the way he stands and moves, the way he mutters phrases and the dialog he chooses to weave through this intricate story are all integral supports in this house of cards of a film that could easily have toppled given one misstep. But Hawke never fails.
Sarah Snook is a true find here and will definitely be a household name if the world is fair and right. Snook plays multiple characters in the film through different time periods, and she excels in every scene. The film is mostly Snook and Hawke interacting with one another and while Hawke is used to that with his BEFORE SUNRISE movies, this film is as intense as those films are delicate. Hawke and Snook play off of one another so well here in a teacher and student sort of way. Snook’s face is often zoomed in on, and these close up shots really show the extensive vocabulary she has with just subtle smiles, eyebrow raises, and other facial gestures.
With outstanding performances by Hawke and Snook, twists and turns galore, and a sense of wonder that is infectious, PREDESTINATION delivers a sophisticated, imaginative, and mature genre film like few others in this day and age of found footage, zombies, and remakes. After seeing this film, I’m convinced that we are going to see some amazing things coming from the visionary powerhouse of the Spierig Brothers. I know it’s early in the year, but it’s going to be hard to top the excitement I had after watching this film and after watching it twice, I can’t wait to see it again.
THE 2014-2015 COUNTDOWN!
#3 – PREDESTINATION
#4 – THE CANAL
#5 – THE BABADOOK
#6 – CREEP
#7 – LATE PHASES
#7.5 – WER
#8 – IT FOLLOWS
#9 – SPRING
#10 – EAT
#11 – GOODNIGHT MOMMY
#12 – LOST SOUL: THE DOOMED JOURNEY OF RICHARD STANLEY’S ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU
#13 – STARRY EYES
#14 – THE BOY
#15 – THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN
#16 – THE HOUSE AT THE END OF TIME
#17 – THE STRANGE COLOR OF YOUR BODY’S TEARS
#18 – CUB
#19 – POD
#20 – BACKCOUNTRY
#21 – CLOSER TO GOD
#22 – WE ARE STILL HERE
#23 – A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT
#24 – WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD
#25 – THE EDITOR
#26 – DEAD SNOW 2: RED VS DEAD
#27 – PARA ELISA
#28 – THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT
#29 – FROM THE DARK
#30 – EXISTS
#31 – A PLAGUE SO PLEASANT
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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