‘Synchronic’ Is One Mesmerizing Drug Trip of a Movie

Filmmaking duo Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson’s (“The Endless”) latest is a twisty sci-fi horror featuring Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan as paramedics at the end of their rope.

Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson are obsessed with time. In each of the writing/directing duo’s features—2012’s Resolution, 2015’s Spring, and 2018’s The Endless—the ability to travel backwards or forwards in history, or to exist eternally, affords insights into the nature of self, and the knotty emotional and psychological dynamics that govern our lives. Cleverly idiosyncratic, they’re genre filmmakers who use their twisty temporal sci-fi conceits for incisive and moving explorations of the human condition.

That remains true with Synchronic (in theaters and drive-ins Oct. 23), Moorhead and Benson’s most high-profile and mainstream-accessible release to date. Having worked wonders on relatively low budgets and with largely unknown casts—The Endless, for example, starred the directors themselves as siblings—the partners’ latest ups the marquee-name quotient via headliners Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan, here playing New Orleans paramedics grappling with dilemmas of both a familiar and head-spinning variety. No matter that their leads are well-known Hollywood players, however, Moorhead and Benson haven’t lost their touch for imbuing out-there fantasy with melodramatic poignancy, the result being a confident, crazy and surprisingly affecting saga about grief, loss, longing, the dangerous allure of escape, and the interconnectedness of everything.