When you can create a film under $7,000 dollars and end up with a pretty esoteric and elaborate science fiction film, that’s quite an achievement. “Primer” was a very low budget film that managed to achieve considerable critical acclaim, as well as respectable grosses, and it’s a film many have deemed difficult to watch. Which is a complaint that’s with merit. “Primer” is an often confusing film about a group of men attempting to build a machine. But what makes it such an entertaining and rather engrossing bit of independent cinema, is the dialogue. And Shane Carruth’s dialogue will suck you in because the characters are so natural.
They speak back and forth at a rapid fire pace, they overlap conversations, and the screenplay is written in which the characters refer to terms and scientific elements without ever explaining to the audience to bring us at their level. Carruth never dumb’s down the elements of his story for the purposes of the audience. They have to keep up, and they have to be kept in the dark, and that’s why “Primer” is such a superior science fiction film. The Macguffin of the film is a special sort of device that has more advanced properties and can possibly be used for technology or for perhaps a more metaphysical level in science. “Primer” explores how these men attempt to create it, and accidentally build something else entirely.
A time machine. Whether or not they can deal with it and the potential consequences from it is something that will keep viewers watching. In the process, though, Carruth creates a “2001: A Space Odyssey” for the modern age, a confusing elaborate allegorical journey of man and machine, and the evolution of technology and its potential implications. Like every inventor, these men seek to outdo their imaginations and enter into something else entirely. Don’t expect to go into this and think you’ll be able to follow it. I consider myself an intelligent man, and I was lost the entire time. But that’s a part of its charm. “Primer” is a great piece of low-budget sci-fi. Shane Carruth refuses to dumb down talks of physics and machinery for his audience, and because of that, “Primer” is an exceptional science fiction film that’s much more than what it claims to be.