An extraordinary premise holds one’s attention instantly. But the real test is fulfilled only when it’s able to deliver human emotions. At first, Synchronic sticks out as a horror drama with some displeasing images of murder and terror. But as its two protagonists explore the darkness, it turns out to be a tale of sacrifice and friendship. These human values are at their core. The film stars two amazing Hollywood actors Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan in the lead role and is directed by Justin Benson.
Two paramedics, Steve Denube (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis Dannelly (Jamie Dornan) usually work late at night helping people in case of any emergencies, in Louisiana. Lately, there had been a series of cases where people were dying in strange circumstances. The only thing common is the new synthetic drug they took before the devasting incidents took place. This new designer drug is called Synchronic.
At first, Steve and Dennis ignore the threats of this new drug and get busy in their own conflicted life. Steve is having a tumor in his pineal gland, a possible cancerous one, and only has six weeks to live, if he goes untreated. Meanwhile, Dennis and his wife, Tara are worried about their teenage daughter, Brianna who has started acting strange recently.
A series of other deadly incidents linked to Synchronic agonizes Steve. But when Dennis’s daughter Brianna goes missing because of the same drug, Steve decides to investigate deeper. Without telling his partner, he buys all the drugs from the market. He finds out that only 5 packets are left and he is not the only one seeking the stock. Through his investigation, Steve meets Dr. Kermani who designed the Synchronic drug. As per its founder, the drug merges time robbing it of its linearity. In simple words, it becomes flat.
Steve actually tries the drug and discovers that it provides the ability to time travel. With the help of the drug, Steve tries to find out what happened to Brianna. With only a few pills left and Steve already suffering from Cancer, he decides to make it his end goal to bring back Brianna at all costs. That will be his parting gift to his friend, his ultimate sacrifice.
Major Spoilers Ahead
What is Synchronic?
According to its creator, Dr. Kermani, it is a synthetic drug similar to illegal drugs like DMT but molecules just different enough to be legal. It is a DMT-like drug synthesized from a red flower that grows only in a very isolated region of the California desert.
Synchronic messes with the pineal gland and one starts experiencing time in a non linear manner.
Adults partially go disappearing like ghosts in the past, but kids, since their pineal glands haven’t been calcified (made rigid by calcium), they physically go to another time entirely, sometimes not returning.
When Steve tests the drug, he concludes that it is a time travel pill that allows you to go back in time for about seven minutes. He goes back in time, but in the exact geological position where he took the drug. Additionally, a change in location also changes the time cycle. Thus, even in his drawing-room, Steve was able to visit different time periods.
There is a catch though pertaining to the effects of this drug. If Steve ever fails to reach the spot on which he appeared in the transported time, then he will be stuck in the past, forever. Thus, he can’t roam around there.
‘Synchronic’ Ending Explained
Through experimentation, Steve learns that while back in time, he can bring back some non-living thing with him. However, the same procedure doesn’t work with living things as his dog gets trapped in the past. Thus, to bring Brianna, he has to find in which time zone she is stuck, and then with the help of the pill, he has to get her back to the present.
After a series of hits and trials, Steve finally finds out the place where Brianna could have taken the drug. It is on the rock where he first met her in the film. Though there is no reason mentioned in the film why Brianna choose that spot. Steve is only left with 2 pills, one to send him back in time, and another to hand over to Brianna so she can come back. Dr. Kermani is dead so there is no way to get more pills. Hence this is the only chance Steve got.
When Steve takes the pill, he is transported to America during the Civil War. In the midst of piled-up dead bodies in the trenches, Steve finds Brianna and hands her the pill which he swallows instantly. Steve warns her that they need to go back to the boulder (stone on which Brianna took the pill) until their 7-minutes is over. Else they’ll be stuck in the past forever.
Brianna reaches the stone and sits on it but Steve is stopped by a white man with a gun. Steve tries to divert the man’s attention so that he doesn’t hurt Brianna. The white man unknowingly tips on a mine and blasts himself. Steve looks back but Brianna is already gone back. Steve reaches the stone but his time is over. He gets stuck in the past.
For a brief moment, a shadowed Steve arrives at the present spot where Brianna and Dennis are standing. The two pals embrace each other for the last time, before saying goodbye forever.
Synchronic is a mind-bending film that keeps you invested. The amazing chemistry between the two actors, Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan is enchanting. These two exchange some of the most influencing pieces of dialogue throughout the film. The film is too plot-heavy and hence it requires very attentive viewers. Due to this fascinating demand, it keeps you hooked and engaged. Some of the visuals move in unimaginable ways, most certainly because of their gory and gruesome depiction. The complex narrative, metaphysical dialogues, and grisly images contribute to the dark tone of the film.
This darkness also sometimes makes the film too heavy for a regular viewer. In some instances, it stops making sense and hence really put your patience to the test. If you are a tolerant viewer, able to handle hefty sci-fi drama then only give this one a try. Else, it could be a cumbersome affair.
Synchronic is a 2020 scientific horror drama film streaming on Netflix.
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