SXSW 2024 Review: THINGS WILL BE DIFFERENT, Timey-Wimey Two Handed Thriller Delights And Befuddles

Editor, U.S. ; Dallas, Texas (@HatefulJosh)
SXSW 2024 Review: THINGS WILL BE DIFFERENT, Timey-Wimey Two Handed Thriller Delights And Befuddles

A pair of siblings on the run after a robbery take refuge in a house with mysterious time-warping qualities, only to find that the law isn’t the only thing they have to fear. Things Will Be Different, the latest from the Rustic Films roster (The Endless, Synchronic, Something in the Dirt) comes from longtime Benson & Morehead editor Michael Felker, who makes his feature writing and directing debut with this mind-bender that very much fits the mold of his frequent collaborators.

Joseph (Adam David Thompson) and Sidney (Riley Dandy) have just pulled off a major heist and they have to lay low for a while. This sibling duo hasn’t always had the greatest relationship – there is a traumatic past that comes into play – but when Sidney needs cash to help her child, Joseph plans this job to get them both in the clear. The plan is simple, Joseph has acquired the keys to a magical house where they can hide, in a place out of time, for a couple of weeks while the heat blows over. Who doesn’t love a magical hideout?

The farmhouse is isolated, so not only are they out of time, they are also mostly out of sight, with very little risk of being discovered. It’s a perfect plan, until things start to happen that the two don’t account for and that start to bring their troubled history bubbling back up, creating a tension that they really do not need if they are going to get through this. When the two weeks pass, it becomes very clear that they are not exactly alone, someone is out to kill them. A mysterious temple in the attached mill might be the answer, but it also might mean their doom if the desiccated corpses laying around are any indicator. If they are going to escape, they have to figure it out, but do they have the time?

Yet another in the high-minded science fiction thrillers that have become the trademark of the Rustic Films catalog, Things Will Be Different is a film uses the radical conceit of time-travel to tell a human story, though with incredibly complex rules surrounding it. Felker has certainly learned from his mentors in terms of how to create that real, viable tension and character interplay within the context of the genre, and the element of the film that works best is definitely the relationship between Joseph and Sidney.

Thompson and Dandy are the only characters on screen for about ninety-five percent of the film, so their chemistry matters, and it’s very solid. Thompson as the doting but rueful elder brother looking to help his sister out and Dandy as the sister who just wants to get clear of her debts and sees her brother as a means to an end are both incredible in their roles. They are given a lot of dialogue, but also a lot of action to work with and both acquit themselves suitably for the roles. There’s a vulnerability to both characters that conveys a tender brother-sister relationship that maybe once existed, but that both are unintentionally reverting back to when things get tough.

Felker’s direction is confident, even when things get hairy as the film ramps up the tension when our temporal interlopers complicate Joseph’s perfect plan. Like the work of his collaborators, Felker’s story gets very deep in the weeds when it comes to the mechanics of the house. I’m going to admit that I lost track of the time-traveling rules, I felt like I needed a flow chart to keep track of everything that was going on. Thankfully the overarching story and beats mostly connect, even when the film turns into an ouroboros. For a lot of sci-fi fans, that’s the good stuff, but I’m more connected to the characters and thankfully that’s more than enough to keep this average viewer engaged.

Not until Shannon Triplett’s Desert Road, another timey-wimey sci-fi entry in this year’s SXSW program, Felker uses temporal displacement to explore themes bigger than the what and the who of the story, and for the most part it works. The mythology could certainly have been clearer, but it is very obvious that Felker and his characters understand what’s going on, and I’m willing to trust them to the end. An audacious debut from a filmmaker who clearly has control of his craft, Things Will Be Different takes time travel in a new direction, one that will engage and confuse in equal measure, and I dig it.

Things Will Be Different

  • Michael Felker
  • Michael Felker
  • Adam David Thompson
  • Riley Dandy
  • Chloe Skoczen
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Adam David ThompsonMichael FelkerRiley DandySXSW 2024Chloe SkoczenHorrorSci-FiThriller

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