Director/Photography/Visual Effects Supervisor – George Moise, Screenplay/Production Design – Michael Kopelow & George Moise, Story – George Moise & Walter Moise, Producers – Michael Kopelow, George Moise & Walter Moise, Music – Jesus Contreras, Michael Kopelow, George Moise & Ryan Spratt. Production Company – SSC Productions.
Michael Kopelow (Ethan Walker), Frank Simms (Roman), Alice Rietveld (Ceil Viskanska), Joy Rinaldi (Estella Walker), Kerry Knuppe (Fiona Walker), Bruce Amato (Hank), Devon Ogden (Tiffany), Aaron Bowden (Gilroy), Cliff Morts (Detective Hensleigh), Sharon Ferguson (Voodoo Nurse)
Ethan Walker and Ceil are working on perfecting a teleportation machine. Ethan impulsively decides to use himself as a test subject. He emerges in a world he no longer recognises where his wife and sister have been murdered and he is wanted for the murders. Fleeing capture by the police, he realises that what they built is actually a time machine and that he has travelled six months into the future. Trying to stop this from coming about, he uses the machine to travel back to just before he stepped into it. There he must not only avoid his past self but also a group of criminals that are determined to obtain the secrets of the machine.
I must admit that the title Counter Clockwise caught my attention, My immediate thought was that it was an adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novel Counter-Clock World (1967) set in a future where time has started to move in reverse and the dead are born out of their graves and then die as infants. This turns out not to be the case, although you cannot help but think that the Dick book would be an exceedingly challenging and original concept for a film to take on some day. Alas, Counter Clockwise is more routinely a time travel story – in specific, a time paradox story.
I make a deliberate point of reading little or nothing in terms of plot details or spoilers before watching a film and, as a result, knew nothing at all about Counter Clockwise before I sat down. As a result, the film left me confused as to what I was watching. Borrowing a few plot elements from The Fly (1986), the film has Michael Kopelow recklessly jumping in to test his own experimental matter transporter. My initial assumption was that he had travelled into a parallel timeline and it is not until well through the middle of the film that we learn he has actually travelled six months into the future. At this realisation, you cannot help but think a shot where he turns and looks at the calendar on the wall or some such would have helped explain what is going on to no end. It is until nearly half the film is over before Michael Kopelow travels back to where the events began and we see that what we are in the midst of is actually a time paradox film.
Ever since Back to the Future Part II (1989), there has been certain genus of time travel films that deal with the mind-bending paradoxes involved with time travellers slotting into their own past and trying to alter events from the margins of pre-established events. There have been some ingenious variations on this with Twelve Monkeys (1995) and especially in recent years with the likes of Timecrimes (2007), The Infinite Man (2014), Predestination (2014), Synchronicity (2015), Paradox (2016) and Black Hollow Cage (2017), any of which I would recommend going and checking out for the pure pleasure of the corkscrew games they conduct in messing with an audience’s sense of what is going on.
In comparison to these, Counter Clockwise does a routine job. There are a couple of scenes where it gets clever in the various conundrums but I cannot say that the film held me with any interest. The weirdest and most off-putting aspect is actually director George Moise’s sense of humour. Cast members have scenes where they try to deliver Tarantino-esque naturalistic monologues – arresting police detective Cliff Morts has a piece in the middle of his interrogation about his weight-loss diet; or where CEO Frank Simms rants to a tied-up Michael Kopelow about the absurdity of having to wash your hands after you go to the bathroom – that seem bizarrely out of place in their forced affectation. The most absurd and ridiculous of these is near the end where Kopelow is tied up (again) and henchman Bruce Amato has a monologue about wanting to have sex with the bodies of the two dead women lying in the room – and then proceeds to do so.
Counter Clockwise was a debut film for Georgia-based newcomer George Moise. Moise made the film on a low-budget, taking on many of the roles behind the camera. He also co-writes and produces the film with his lead actor Michael Kopelow.