Project Almanac film review: Back To The Future meets Chronicle

Our verdict on this handheld time-travel thriller

Dean Israelite’s first feature film is an entertaining and confident found footage, time-travel movie that recalls the chats and dilemmas of Shane Carruth’s low-budget film Primer, which made waves in the indie scene over ten years ago. However, complicated scientific matters are soon dropped to focus on the teen experience, but renders it a far less intelligent effort than Carruth’s aforementioned gem.

When MIT applicant David Raskin (Jonny Weston) finds out he’s been accepted to his dream college his jubilation disappears as soon as he realises that his request for a grant has been denied. With his dreams of scientific study slipping from his grasp, he investigates the attic space where his late father’s inventions are kept to find a solution to his problem. Instead, he finds a video camera that holds evidence to not only prove time travel is possible, but that he may have the means to make it a reality.

David recruits his film-obsessed little sister to document his experiment and two closest friends to join him on a quest to the unknown. Classmate, Jessie (Sofia Black-D’Elia) turns up as a love interest for David after she accidentally stumbles into their lab.

The screenwriters display a fondness for the time-travel genre, and have lots of fun with it, but don’t really deliver anything outstanding. There are direct nods to Looper and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and the title even alludes to the Back To The Future franchise, but with that also comes an air of predictability as the cause and effect storyline kicks in towards the latter half. However, the responsibility of time-travel crashing down around David does play nicely into his narrative.

It is a shame, then, that at points the noticeable product placement and “your mum” jokes threaten to sour the film. In addition to that, despite David’s sister being a whizz with a video camera, she is often landed with lines which suggest she is dumb and clueless.