Jason Richard Miller’s “Madelines” is a shoddy attempt at making a science fiction thriller about the effects of time travel. It is about a married couple who practice various scientific experiments in their garage regarding making objects travel through time and how that goes terribly wrong, at least for one of them. It is quite evident that the film was made on a much lower budget than the low-budget films by established studios, as it showcases terrible visual effects, silly-looking transitions, and an excessive use of convenient slow motion. None of these would matter if a film has substance in any way though, but Jason Richard Miller’s film unfortunately does not fall in this category, and to go through the entire film in itself is an achievement to be proud of (although unnecessary).
‘Madelines’ Plot Summary
Madeline and Owen are a married couple who have turned their small garage into a makeshift science laboratory. They have been trying to make time travel possible for quite some time now, and after numerous test trials with apples and oranges, they are finally able to crack the code and make the fruits travel through time. Their base setup is simple enough, with two small glass chambers fitted with all the necessary electronics—a fruit is placed in the left one, codes are run, electric power charges up, and it vanishes from its place, only to reappear in the right chamber a few seconds later. But the two have also been preparing a prototype face mask-type mechanism that would do the same thing but for humans. A private investor, Rory Devonshire, is the main patron of Madeline and Owen, for he provides them with all the required money so that he can earn profits with the time-traveling machine someday.
Despite seemingly having a lot of love between the two, the husband and wife have their own difference of opinion about their experiment, particularly with what their next step should be. Owen wants to test the same experiment with mice to see how living beings might be sent into the future. But Madeline is quite against it, for she does not want a mouse to die for the sake of science. Rory hears of all of this and does not want to force his thoughts on his scientists, he tells them to take their time with it, despite the fact that he has been spending all his money on them without any returns.
Finally, Owen convinces his wife, and they try the same test with a mouse, which ends horribly, as instead of disappearing from the first chamber, the mouse explodes to death. Terribly disappointed and cross with her husband over this, Madeline works alone at night in the laboratory and finds a mistake she made in the code and corrects it, and then decides to try the test on her own. Wearing the face mask prototype, she runs all the steps and, within seconds, she disappears from her chair.
The next morning, she wakes up in the yard in front of their house and is helped up by Owen, who is concerned about her well-being but is also happy that her experiment has succeeded. Madeline had briefly traveled to the future for about an hour, and then spawned back to the present. However, the next day, while working in the yard, Owen is attacked by Madeline, and he accidentally kills her, only to see his wife walk out of the house. The couple soon found a mistake in the code they had run, and realized that a different Madeline would spawn back every day, for the code had potentially created 3600 Madelines.
Why Do The Madelines Try To Kill Owen?
Having killed the first spawn, Owen realizes that killing off every Madeline as they appear is the best way forward, for the real Madeline and a spawn cannot exist in the same place at the same time. They do wonder why Madeline tried to kill him but found no answer. Over the next few days, he keeps killing every other version of his wife that spawns with various techniques, ranging from stabbing them to choking them with nitrogen gas. But this constant violence against versions of her makes Madeline grow discontent; she wants to travel back in time and stop herself from running the experiment, but Owen does not let her do so, citing the innumerable more risks that she would be exposing herself to. But soon, she joins her husband in the act, and does not have much problem killing off the spawned Madelines.
However, one day, during the act of killing a spawn, Owen accidentally stabs his wife instead of the spawn, killing her off. The new Madeline, number 51, stays alive and instantly makes friends with her husband, although Owen does miss his original wife a bit. Sometime later, Rory visits their house, and they show him their setup and run a test for him with an egg that transforms into a little chick in the future. But Rory now wants the machine completed and launched within a month, which freaks out Owen, especially over the fact that he has been hiding the bodies of all the dead Madelines in the house. He has a word with his wife over how this killing scheme is affecting their experiments and how it might be stopped, but this Madeline is much more comfortable with killing her spawn versions.
Out of desperation, Owen runs a reverse test trying to send an apple back to the past, but gives up when it does not appear in the chamber, even though the computer calls the test a success. Madeline had heard him running this test from outside the garage, and it is later revealed that she found the apple, which had indeed successfully spawned back to its original space, the yard, but she did not tell Owen this because this Madeline (number 51) did not want to not exist and wanted Owen to be only with her. The next morning, Owen gets late going to the spawn spot to kill the new Madeline and sees nobody there when suddenly he is struck unconscious by the new Madeline, number 115, with a scar on her face.
Owen is tied up to his chair and kept hostage in the garage while many other Madelines spawn back over the next few days. The different spawns have now decided to coexist with each other and celebrate the arrival of the new spawns like birthdays. Madeline 115 tells Owen about the experience of time travel: original Madeline had spawned in the future in the middle of a desert, and she spawned back to the present right after one hour.
Then a new Madeline spawned there, and a new one kept spawning every hour till the loop in the code ended. By the time 115 had spawned, there was an entire congregation of Madelines of different types—some who broke down and wanted to kill themselves, while others wanted to kill each other for survival. Soon, though, all of them came to the conclusion that they should decide on a leader for themselves, and 115 was chosen. Back in the present, the Madelines soon start to lose faith in each other; their opinions differ, particularly with regard to their love for Owen; one of them even kills another version of herself.
Later that night, one of the Madelines goes to Owen, who is still kept in the garage, to make love, but is killed by 115. Madeline 51, sees all of this happen, and she now kills 115 and rescues Owen from captivity, taking him to Rory’s house. They then decide to send Owen back into the past to try and stop the original Madeline from running the test on herself.
The only way to arrange the brainless logic that the film tries to churn up is to think of the two timelines—one of the real world where Owen exists and Madelines spawn back, and the other of the future where Madelines spawn from the past into a desert—to have time operating in a different manner (Madeline 115 even hints at this). So every Madeline that spawns back each day has spent one more day in the desert more than the previous Madeline. Now, as all the Madelines are technically the same minds, they have a connected consciousness which knows that their husband is killing every new version of them whenever Owen first kills a spawned Madeline. As a result, different Madeleines react differently on getting back to the past—while some kill themselves even before arriving, some want to fight and kill the cruel husband who has been killing them off.
‘Madelines’ Ending Explained: What Happens To Owen At The End? What Does The Last Scene Mean?
Owen mistakenly spawns to the future, instead of the past, in the same place where Madeline had, in the middle of a desert. He spots their camper truck, which Madeline had said she saw in the future from the beginning. Entering the truck, he sees Madeline 115 waiting for him to arrive so that she can kill him like he had killed so many of her selves. Owen tries to attack her, which leaves the scar on her face that was seen in the present, but Madeline stabs him fatally. Owen spawns out, and then another stabbed version of him spawns in the open desert, where he sees countless Madelines walking towards him to finish him off.
While trying to spawn Owen back to the past, Madeline 51 had possibly run the same code with the same loop as before, and this perhaps caused multiple spawns of Owen as well over time. On the other hand, as their consciousness is all connected, all the other Madelines got to know of 51’s intentions to save the husband and flocked to him in the future to kill him. But why does the machine malfunction and send Owen to the future when it had previously worked for the apple? The only explanation, although unlikely, might be that 51 was also mixed up in the revenge plot, and she intentionally sent him to the future. Nonetheless, such a strange but convenient plot twist makes no sense.
At the very end, the film shows a section titled “before,” in which the original Madeline is about to run the experiment when a version of herself from the future arrives and stops her from pressing the keys. Again, the only plausible explanation might be that Madeline arrives after the killing of Owen has been done in the future, and she stops herself from creating so much chaos and hardship. What then happens to Owen? Does he still live on in the original Madeline’s present?
In a film that offers laughable and substandard plot, execution, graphics and camera works, this last scene might just be enough for any viewer to demand a refund of their time!
“Madelines” is a 2022 Science Fiction Horror film directed by Jason Richard Miller.