STUDIO: Big Bite Entertainment
MSRP: $17.99
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 83 minutes
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The Pitch
Frequency gets the ultra-indie treatment.

The Humans
Toby Huss, Julie Carlson, Johnny Pacar, Jadin Gould
Written & Directed: Danny Kuchuck, John Weiner

The Nutshell
In this clever and twisty low-budget thriller, a teenage girl communicates via a cell phone with a past version of herself to try and undo her mother’s death.

The Lowdown
8 years ago young Sara Graver’s (Jadin Gould) mother was electrocuted when Sara’s father (Toby Huss) accidentally knocked a power cable into the family swimming pool. Now Sara, a teenager (Julie Carlson), has an awkward relationship with the man. While Sara and her best friend Jesse (Johnny Pacar) are poking around in her room they discover the clunky old cell phone that Sara’s mother gave her the day she died (it had been Sara’s birthday). As a joke Sara  dials her old family phone-line to see if someone still has it. While talking to the little girl who answers the phone Sara slowly comes to the impossible realization that she’s talking to herself in the past. As the two Sara’s relationship grows, teen Sara figures out that her father may not have accidentally electrocuted her mother. Sara is determined to use this opportunity to save her mother, despite the eerie sounds she hears on the line begging her not to.  

Despite the generic title, Crytpic is actually a surprisingly interesting little film. At first glance you wouldn’t guess it. The videography is flat and lifeless, and the film exists in one of those low-budget worlds were there are no extras anywhere and every scene takes place inside or immediately outside a house. The direction from Kuchuck and Weiner isn’t always sure-footed. Some important scenes fall flat with a thud, and they don’t do well directing the actors in the important scenes that require emotional intensity. But these two have otherwise crafted something special here.

“Here’s lookin’ at you kid.”

Having read the plot description I was expecting the film to unfold as kind of a Frequency meets Cellular. But the plot I described up top is purely the set up. Things get movin’
early in the film when teen Sara instructs young Sara to save their mother from
electrocution. Unlike Frequency, which was unraveling a specific mystery over the course of the film, there is no mystery in Crytpic. Instead the film mixes things up with Back to the Future II style cause and effect twists. I don’t want to say too much, because the story is really all this film has to work with.

Carlson handles herself nicely in the film’s casual moments but feels a bit green in her emotional scenes. I don’t want to harp on her because this is a small film and she’s obviously just starting out in her career, but nonetheless I think it is hard to get truly engrossed in a thriller when the protagonist’s performance isn’t enough. Pacar was rather good. I could see him playing this same role in a larger movie. MTV Sinatra impressionist Toby Huss gives the film’s only standout performance, embracing the complete slimy unlikability of his character. Huss is an actor who should really work more frequently, or at least in higher profiles projects.

From the film’s incredibly low-budget action boat-chase climax.

Being realistic I think the amateurish nature of the film may be too much for most people to look past. Those who enjoy seeking out fresh film experiences may enjoy it. I did. Though I also had to watch it. But I’m glad I did. Overlooking the film’s acting and production flaws my only legitimate critique is on the film’s ending. After making it so far into the film and maintaining a high level of ingenuity with the script, I was disappointed when the film became hacky right at the end. I could cut the ending slack, but I think the film shows enough knowhow and smarts that I’m not wrong to want more.

This film is a perfect candidate for a studio remake. If I were Dakota Fanning or Emma Roberts I’d be jumping all over this shit. Someone out there take note.

MTV keeps you plugged in.

The Package
Got a screener. Can’t help ya.

6.5 out of 10