I do like a good bit of time trickery in movies. Time travel and timeloops usually do enough to keep me thinking and entertained throughout, which is why I knew it was only a matter of time (no pun intended) until I gave ARQ a watch.
Robbie Amell and Rachael Taylor play Renton and Hannah, two people who wake up just as their house is being invaded by people. We quickly learn that the invaders are after "scrips", and maybe some food, but Renton suspects that they're after something else, a machine that will benefit a company he doesn't want to get their hands on it. And that same machine ends up causing a time loop, which is very handy when Renton is killed . . . and then wakes up again just as the house is being invaded. Certain things play out the same way while certain other things start to be changed by the actions of the characters. Sometimes they remember how everything plays out, sometimes they don't.
It's a decent enough premise at the heart of the movie, and I would say the same about most films featuring a timeloop, but writer-director Tony Elliott fumbles things when it comes to the bigger picture. Each iteration is freshened up by twists and developments, including just how many people start to remember what has happened to them before, but he throws too much in the mix when trying to complicate the character motivations and also hint at the bigger picture of the world outside the house.
Amell and Taylor are decent enough leads, and they do what they can to carry the film. They can't do enough, however, when weighed down by the vagueness of the script, which only starts to nail down some of the finer details in the second half, and the nondescript nature of most of the supporting cast members. Shaun Benson, Adam Butcher, Gray Powell, and Jacob Neayem do what they're asked to do, which makes it more frustrating that they're not given decent material to work with.
Elliott does well when you consider how he tried to best utilise the budget to match the scope of his vision. It's a shame that he doesn't do as well when keeping the events and characters in order for viewers to keep track of. Not that the film is incoherent. It just doesn't have enough indicators that most films of this type usually use to help viewers track any locked events and any changes.
There's still enough here to make this an enjoyable sci-fi thriller, especially if you like time trickery in your movies as much as I do. It's just a shame that it isn't a bit better, in terms of the characterisations and plotting. Not the worst way to spend 90 minutes but, unlike the main characters, I won't be repeating the experience.
ARQ doesn't seem to be on disc just now, so enjoy this one instead.
Americans can get the DVD here.