Nacho Vigalondo’s Timecrimes stars Karra Elejalde, who plays Hector, an everyday man who, seemingly by accident, is pushed into a time loop with his future and past selves. From this description, you would think that Timecrimes was just going to be another science-fiction slash time travel movie, but Vigalondo adds another element—one of horror. Unlike many of the time travel genre’s accompanying elements of action, humor or romance (like the Back to the Future trilogy, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Groundhog Day, or Time Traveller’s Wife), Timecrimes gets the audience hooked at the premise of the film wherein Hector is being chased by what appears to be a deranged killer.
Time travel plots usually provide a way for man to manipulate his ending (or past) towards his preference; an opportunity to play around with destiny and fate, which will predictably result in a mess. I find that time travel movies will typically have an interesting premise but towards the middle can get a bit repetitive, while the end is practically foreseen. I used to think that directors and writers would get lazy with their work by just creating the same scene over and over again, but Timecrimes doesn’t fall to this same mistake. East time travel is different, in that something is revealed which changes the viewer’s perspective entirely, showing just how much thought is put into the process. It’s an interesting method of interacting with the audience—by having the character go through the realizations in sync with the viewer.
Vigalondo seems to place an important role on identity in the diegesis of the film. Hector develops as he goes through each time travel, he tries to play smarter by doing exactly what was done to him by the previous Hector, like calling his house and hanging up, luring a new Hector, and letting the woman from the forest die, as long as it would get him back to his normal life. As the movie progresses, the plot becomes wider (as more time travelling occurs), but still manages to remain focused on the same character, and better yet, the same Hector. We get to understand the identity and fate of Hector, which is quite contrary to the audience’s experience in a complex film like Holy Motors, where even though the whole movie centers around one character, Oscar, the viewers never get to know the reality of who he is exactly.
Initially, I thought it was strange that we were going to watch another science-fiction movie, right after Trollhunter, but after watching Timecrimes you can see that they’re not much of the same type. Trollhunter is more adventurous and mythical, while Timecrimes makes use of a low budget and keeps the visuals very simple. This film proves that a good horror or sci-fi film doesn’t need crazy special effects or colossal amounts of blood and jump scares, rather, a good, properly thought-out storyline accompanied with committed and talented actors, like that of Elejalde, will do just the trick.