Most of us are of the opinion that science fiction movies always require a mega budget to be made and that it can only be possible when a major studio is backing the project. And it is true that most science fiction movies which we see are made on a large scale with excessive use of graphics and the green screen. But there is one person who dramatically shook our perceptions and thoughts on the genre. His name is Shane Carruth. The writer-director-actor-editor-music composer made ‘Primer‘ in 2004 on a budget as less as $7000, and with this small indie project, he got the whole world talking.
‘Primer’ is the story of two scientists, Aaron and Abe, who accidentally invent a time machine and then end up using it to make money. However, messing with time, of course, has its own consequences, and soon, it starts taking a toll on them. Time travel has been a matter of great fascination for humans for a long time, and numerous works of art have been made throughout history where time travel has had a major role to play. However, there are only a few stories of time travel that explores the phenomenon as seriously as ‘Primer’, bringing it down to real-life causations and results. If you love this film and are looking for more movies similar in tone and style, then you have arrived at the right place. Here is the list of best movies similar to ‘Primer’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these movies like ‘Primer’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
7. Upstream Color (2013)
It is a well-established notion in all film industries around the world that if one wants to be taken seriously as a major talent on the horizon, one has to get his/her second film right. And with ‘Upstream Color‘, Carruth does exactly that. The story of ‘Upstream Color’ centers around two individuals whose lives get entangled in a weird manner. We follow one of the characters from the beginning — a woman named Kris, who meets a strange man called Jeff years after a mysterious being called ‘The Thief’ kidnaps her. Jeff and Kris slowly come to discover that they have a deeper connection between them, which is much more than what could be between two normal individuals. Few science fiction films are as dark and yet beautiful as ‘Upstream Color’. The whole concept of the film is something we have never seen before, and that is what makes it a seminal piece of art.
6. Looper (2012)
One of the most interesting science fiction films of this decade, ‘Looper‘ is a story set in 2044 where time travel is used to send criminals back to the past for them to be executed by a killer assigned to the role called the looper. However, problems soon arise when it is the looper himself who is sent back in time to be executed. Writer-director Rian Johnson concocts an intriguing plot in this film which is a rather fresh look at time travel. ‘Looper’ uses innovative storytelling techniques, and also has wonderfully written characters about whom you will start caring for quite early on in the film. The star-studded cast of the film, which includes names like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt do justice to their roles. The film has received unanimously positive critical acclaim, helping Rian Johnson further solidify his legacy, which started building with films like ‘Brick’ (2005) and ‘The Brothers Bloom’ (2009).
5. Synchronicity (2015)
Jacob Gentry is the writer, director, and editor of this 2015 science fiction film starring Chad McKnight, A. J. Bowen, and Brianne Davis. McKnight plays Jim Beale, a scientist who has managed to develop a time machine, but instead of keeping it secret or claiming the ownership of the machine all by himself, Beale is threatened by an industrialist to write off 99% of the ownership of the machine. In order to prevent this from happening, Beale decides that the best way will be to travel back in time and prevent himself from divulging information to the seductress who had been sent to extract information from him. ‘Synchronicity’ is a cleverly constructed time travel film which will be of interest for anyone who has enjoyed films like ‘Primer’ or even ‘Blade Runner’. The screenplay is tightly written, and the film is well-assisted by the music and brilliant cinematography, all of which help in heightening the overall experience of the film.
4. Coherence (2013)
‘Coherence‘, just like ‘Primer’, is another fine example which proves that if there is enough power in a story, there is no need for lavish sets and high budgets to impress viewers. The story of ‘Coherence’ takes place over the course of a night when a group of eight friends gather together to spend a night in each other’s company. As it so happens, a meteor passes over them during that night, which ends up having devastating influences in their lives. The group soon discover that this meteor has opened up portals between parallel timelines and that now there are parallel universes around them which have merged together. Filled with brilliant performances, intense dialogue, and a constant sense of dread, ‘Coherence’ is one of the finest examples of low-budget filmmaking we have seen in recent times. Director James Ward Byrkit has admitted that the TV series ‘Twilight Zone’ was a huge influence behind the creation of this film.
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3. Parallels (2015)
The concept of parallel universes has been used in a number of films, novels, comic books, and TV shows over the years. The idea that the reality which we are aware of is not the only reality out there has given birth to speculations regarding what would happen once access to other such realities became plausible? The 2015 film ‘Parallels’ explores these possibilities through the story of its two leading characters – Ronan and Beatrix. When they are left a note by their father to meet at a particular building, the siblings go to the location, only to discover that each time someone enters the building, he/she is transported to an alternate dimension. In one such dimension, the siblings discover a horrible truth about their father which makes things rather troublesome for them.
Most of the mysteries we see in the film remain unexplained, as it was initially meant as the pilot to a TV series which never came to be; and that affects the film to a massive extent. The plot otherwise has some promising twists and turns, which, if further explored, could have led to something pretty exciting.
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2. Interstellar (2014)
Very few filmmakers command such attention and interest as Christopher Nolan, who has now established himself firmly as one of the greatest filmmakers of his time. His distinctive style and the penchant for telling very original stories separate him from the rest. Nolan sets this 2014 film in the middle of the 21st century, where human life is getting pretty difficult to be sustained. In such a condition, NASA decides to send in one of their former astronauts, Joseph Cooper (played by Matthew McConaughey) to look for the sustainability of life on other planets. Cooper and his crew, on their journey, discover a place where time is a physical concept like length or breadth and thus can be tampered with.
‘Interstellar’ is a complex film that gives us a peek into the many mysteries the universe has in store. Here, Nolan’s vision was to make a film which will not just be limited to the science fiction/adventure genre, and he does exactly that: the film turns into a deeply affecting, emotional experience that makes us question our existence and purpose in life.
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1. Time Lapse (2014)
The concept of ‘Time Lapse’ is quite similar to that of ‘Primer’, but here, there is no time machine per se. Instead, the protagonists discover a photograph machine that has the ability to take photographs of any event or place that would be 24 hours into the future. Excited with their new discovery, they immediately use the camera to win horse races and earn some money as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, their secret does not stay a secret long enough and soon, a dangerous criminal finds out about the machine and starts tracking them down.
The exciting aspect of ‘Time Lapse’ is that it never tries to be clever and tells quite a simple story in which time travel plays a small part. It is the characters and their relationships with each other that form the crux of the film. There are enough doses of drama, philosophy, and humor throughout the film to keep the audiences hooked until the very end.
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