Underrated: Project Almanac (2015) Review

4/5* Shiv’s Show | Siobhan Divers

Dir: Dean Israelite

106 minutes

Starring: Jonny Weston, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Sam Lerner, Allen Evangelista, Virginia Gardner, Amy Landecker.

An original and stylish sci-fi thriller, Project Almanac is a gripping teen time-travel movie with a charismatic and relatable cast.

Using the found footage approach, Project Almanac follows 17-year-old high school senior and aspiring inventor, David Raskin (Jonny Weston). Hoping to get into MIT, David submits a video application showing his latest invention and while he is accepted into the programme, he does not receive a full scholarship and is therefore unable to afford the tuition fees. David then searches the attic for his father’s old belongings and inventions in the hope of finding something he can use to get another scholarship offer however instead of finding an invention, David and his sister Christina (Virginia Garner) find an old video recorder with the last recording showing his 7th birthday and his 17 year old self’s reflection. On discovering this, David, Christina and their friends Adam Le (Allen Evangelista) and Quinn Goldberg (Sam Lerner) set out to investigate, finding plans for a ‘temporal displacement device’ – every nerd’s dream – however they soon find out that tampering with timelines have serious consequences!

The directorial debut of Dean Israelite, Project Almanac primarily uses found-footage camerawork which has its pros and cons: Main character David’s sister Christina is often limited to being behind the camera which is disappointing however this approach and the shaky camera shooting contributes to the overall effect that Israelite is trying to achieve.

Not merely a sci-fi thriller either, Project Almanac also features moments of nerdy humour (“who could possibly be calling you right now, everyone you know is standing right here”) as well as romantic subplots – the primary one being between David and popular girl Jessie Pierce (Sofia Black-D’Elia).

Female characters Christina and David’s love interest Jessie Pierce sadly almost exist purely as the cliché ‘hot’ girls who are often included within teenage sci-fi films which is disappointing as both characters could have a more inclusive role within the narrative without ruining the overall storyline or effect.

It would be interesting to see Christina’s character development as it is revealed fleetingly that she is bullied and doesn’t have many friends however the film doesn’t really resolve this, showing instead that she gets her ‘revenge’ by pouring a drink over her bully which obviously is not a long-term solution.

Jonny’s character development is quite interesting however – he makes a new friend in Jess, helping him to realise that there is more to life than he had maybe considered previous to this.

With naturally charismatic characters and an original time-travel plot, Project Almanac is a slick teen sci-fi thriller which can be enjoyed by adult sci-fi fans and teenagers alike! A forgotten gem, Project Almanac deserves a watch!

If you liked this, please read, like and comment on my other reviews here.

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Siobhan x

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