“A businessman crosses a busy city street, and awakes trapped in another time. London is gone, along with the buildings, cars and people. It has been replaced by a never-ending forest. The man wanders the wilderness alone, without food or shelter.”
The idea of time travel has been used to various effect in science fiction films and television but, in The Timeslip (2011), filmmaking brothers Jonathan Chance and Richard Chance exemplify that its inherent dangers do not lie so much in paradoxes as much as in that most complex and unpredictable of variables – man himself. Coming in at around fifteen minutes, The Timeslip is a short dialogue-less film about a nameless businessman who finds himself enigmatically transported from the busy streets of contemporary London to a lush forest untouched by civilisation. The man wanders the wilderness alone without food or shelter, with only his briefcase as a reminder of his modern-world origins. Days pass before our hero discovers he is not alone, and that the deep forest holds dangers far worse than wolves.
The viewer is offered no explanation, and rightfully so, as such phenomena has been widely reported throughout history. One of the earliest and best-known examples of a timeslip was reported in 1901 by two English school teachers, Charlotte Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain, who claimed they had slipped back in time more than a hundred years to the period of the French revolution. Ms. Moberly said of her experience, “We walked briskly forward, talking as before, but from the moment we left the lane an extraordinary depression had come over me, which, in spite of every effort to shake off, steadily deepened. There seemed to be absolutely no reason for it – I was not at all tired, and was becoming more interested in my surroundings. I was anxious that my companion should not discover the sudden gloom upon my spirits, which became quite overpowering on reaching the point where the path ended, being crossed by another, right and left. Everything suddenly looked unnatural, therefore unpleasant, even the trees behind the building seemed to have become flat and lifeless, like a wood worked in tapestry. There were no effects of light and shade, and no wind stirred the trees. It was all intensely still.”
In 1935, Sir Victor Goddard claimed to have slipped forward in time to 1939 to describe a busy Scottish airport and, more recently, Andrew MacKenzie of the Society for Psychical Research investigated several British cases, including three naval cadets who insisted they had traveled back in time to plague-ridden village in medieval Suffolk, and a Scottish woman who had slipped back to the year 685 to witness the battle of Nechtanesmere. The phenomena has been so widely acknowledged that the concept has become an important staple in literature (John Wyndham, Richard Matheson, Stephen King), television (The Twilight Zone, Timeslip, Goodnight Sweetheart) and motion pictures (Slaughterhouse Five, Somewhere In Time, The Time-Traveler’s Wife). In fact, the so-called ‘timeslip romance’ has become so popular it is now considered a major genre by publishers, selling millions of novels each year.
What makes the Chance Brothers’ film The Timeslip different is its lack of exposition and dialogue – it simply happens without warning. Interviewed by The Daily Grindhouse, Jonathan revealed the story’s origins: “Richard came up with the basic idea to start, about this businessman who falls into another place. We weren’t sure what should be hunting him and I went towards going with something savage, and definitely with horror elements. From there we brainstormed ideas. In our films we always want to give something more, underneath the surface among the leering shots and suspense we wanted it to be very apparent in our analogy. That today, people are slipping further away from basic survival, hunting, even spiritualism replaced by consumerism and technology. We rely on everything today. It’s like owning a rabbit and feeding it everyday, it has no survivalist instinct – all it knows is that it will get fed at 10am and 3pm. Someone leaves the hutch open, rabbit’s escaped. We find the animal dead two hours later attacked in the woodland nearby. Sheltered animals don’t stand a chance in the wild. So it makes me wonder about modern man today out of it’s environment.”Jonathan Chance is now based in Southern California, while his brother Richard works from his home in Colchester, England. Together they make up the production company known as Chance Encounters, creating the acclaimed small-budget feature film The Veil (2005) with the new ‘Unmasked Edition’ which will be available shortly on Itunes. They keep themselves busy between feature films by producing award-winning shorts such as Chainmail (2007) The Day I Tried To Live (2008), and Apt. (2010), as well as screenplays such as The Waiting Room (2009), which was nominated for ‘Best Horror Screenplay’ at the Action On Film International Film Festival. Their company motto is ‘For Innovation Not Imitation’ and the boys have always been very hands-on, doing much of the work themselves, referring to Peter Jackson’s first film Bad Taste (1987) as a huge inspiration for what can be done with a group of friends and not much else. The brothers yearn to have a real budget one day, if only to prove what they’re truly capable of. The critics rave:“The Timeslip has everything, comedy, suspense and genuine terror. One word: Brilliant.” (Erebus Horror) “Chance Encounters delivers a stark, relentless survival tale!” (Cutting Room Floor) “A original and fascinating piece, an intriguingly existential science fiction short film.” (Movie Feast) “A mystery-thriller full of intrigue and suspense.” (Horror Movies And Stuff) “Amazingly well-sequenced, startling cuts and abrasive score all add up to a taut fifteen minutes of time travel intrigue. I’d like to see what they could do with a proper budget!” (Nigel Buckland Reviews) “This stylish Indie film centres around one man’s travels through time and place, or maybe just travels through his own mind – a solid overall product giving these brothers a promising future in the industry.” (Cinematic Method) “Tension and atmosphere are expertly achieved, The Timeslip hits all the right notes. I look forward to seeing more from the Chance brothers.” (Paracinema)
For more information about the Chance brothers and their films head on over to www.chance-encounters.org – The Timeslip has since gone on to feature in more than a dozen international festivals garnering ‘Best Sci-Fi Film’ at the Geek Independent Film Festival in Indianapolis and continues its run on the worldwide festival circuit. It’s on this rather upbeat note I’ll bid you a good night, but not before thanking Mr. Jonathan Chance himself for assisting my research, and I sincerely look forward to your company next week when I have the opportunity to raise the hackles on your goose-bumps with more ambient atmosphere so thick you could cut it with a chainsaw, in yet another pants-filling fright-night for…Horror News! Toodles!