Suspension (2008)

suspension

“I need some help.”

The Scoop: 2008 NR, directed by Alec Joler and Ethan Shaftel, and starring Scott Cordes, Annie Tedesco and Caroline Vinciguerra

Tagline: What would you do, if you could stop time?

Summary Capsule: I’d become a superhero! But this guy goes a different way.

Justin’s rating: It’s kind of like that Nickelodeon movie Clockstoppers, except not at all.

Justin’s review: “What would you do if you could stop time?” the tagline to Suspension asks.  There’s a lot of answers to that question, but I don’t think that “become a psycho creepy stalker man” was high up in my guesses when I popped this in the DVD player on a strong recommendation from a friend.

The concept is simple, if inexplicable: A family gets into a deadly car accident and the father is the sole survivor, after which he discovers that his son’s camcorder now has the bizarre ability to freeze time for everything except him, as long as the battery lasts.  We feel sorry for the grieving guy, who looks remarkably like a very chunky Keifer Sutherland, as he grasps onto this newfound gift in the midst of his tragedy.

The problem is equally simple, if also inexplicable: every time he pauses time, the fiancée of the other driver gets a massive migraine and sort of sees without seeing – her eyes flicker back and forth in frozen time, like the screen of a paused VCR.  It doesn’t help that fat Jack Bauer uses the camera constantly for his own meager gain, completely disrupting her life and pushing her further and further toward a complete breakdown in the process.

The situation grows incredibly ludicrous: Creepy/lonely guy morphs into Stalker Dude, obsessing over the wistful teacher lady, going so far as to pretend that he’s in a relationship while time is at a standstill.  He fixes small household objects, replaces broken plates, and spends a wee bit too much time touching her hair and moving her from room to room.  All while she can sort of sense it, but not quite.  Eventually, it goes from creepy to full-fledged Fatal Attraction, with her on the run from a guy who can stop time at will.  What would you do in that situation?

As an incredibly low budget production, Suspension is surprisingly well-done – as a silent film.  It’s not a movie for dialogue, preferring images and low-key xylophone music to move the scenes along, so when the actors try to force words between their lips, it’s as bad as going squirrel skeet shooting in front of a kindergarten.  Better to just not.

Of particular note are the frozen time sequences, which are substantial in number (about a third of the film is spent in this in-between landscape) and smooth.  It doesn’t look like a special effect, not in the showy way that Clockstoppers or Heroes liked it to be, it just comes across as what the world might be like on pause.  You’ll really be wondering at points how they finagled a particular scene without Weta or Lucasfilm behind it – they’re that good.  I was a little disappointed the movie didn’t explore the coolness of the concept, nor did it ever come out and explain why the camcorder made it happen.

Before I realized that creepy guy was going off the deep end, I kept expecting him to somehow redeem himself, use his powers for good, to make the teacher’s life better instead of worse.  He isn’t 100% evil incarnate; in fact, he even might qualify as a “nice” stalker, what with trying to do nice things for the girl and avoiding a couple scenes of severe sexual temptation.  But once he passed the point of no return and became a lunatic, the film got a lot more fun.  It’s as awkward as they get, with the stalking, but the paused world added enough room to add color commentary from the audience, as we were guessing what demented thing he’d do next.

And wouldn’t you know, there was even a Bridal Room at the end.  Of course there’s a bridal room!  It’s the best kind of room stalkers can make!

It’s not a fast-paced film (although it’s barely an hour and a half), but Suspension nevertheless keeps throwing something interesting at you, leaving you unable to look away as predictable (and cringe-worthy) events unfold, as well as a couple unforeseen developments.

So once again, movies teach us that having God-like powers such as invisibility (Hollow Man), teleportation (Jumper) or stopping time (Suspension) is a gateway drug to insanity.  Keep clear, kids!

Intermission!

  • The confrontation with the police was baffling in its conclusion – so the police just let Dan go without medical treatment or bringing him in for questioning, and they gave him back his camera?  Oh, and they believed that little miss school teacher could brutally punch another guy to death?  Worst police ever!
  • Editing and special effects work took two more years after filming to complete
  • Film was originally written and filmed with the name “RestEZ” but all references to that name in the film were cut out during the editing process.

If You Liked This Movie, Try These:

  • Jumper
  • Clockstoppers
  • Primer

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