The premise of “Groundhog Day” enters the “Twilight Zone” in “Source Code.” It’s a riveting sci-fi thriller with an interesting twist on time travel. Imagine you wake up occupying someone else’s body. You’re thousands of miles away from where you last were. You are on a train speeding to an unknown city.
As you try to make sense of what has happened to you, the train explodes in a huge fireball and you are killed. But you instantly wake up from sudden death. You are now in a locked capsule with a video feed from military officers. They are sending you back in time to the train eight minutes before the explosion. You must find out where the bomb is located and who planted it there. You uncover some clues, but oops — you blow up again!
All this happens in just the first few moments of the film. Jake Gyllenhaal does an outstanding job playing the confused soldier at the center of this giant puzzle. He is forced to repeat this strange exercise many times, “dying” over and over while gathering more clues from the past. It’s a great premise that director Duncan Jones pulls off with intelligent style and unexpected turns.
Genuine freakouts abound in ‘Insidious’
1 a : awaiting a chance to entrap : b : harmful but enticing
2 a : having a gradual and cumulative effect
Merriam-Webster pretty well sums up the plot of the new haunted house flick “Insidious,” a movie that may not be totally original but certainly gets the job done.
Josh and Renai (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) have just moved into a handsome Craftsman-style home replete with creaky doors, floors and a dark attic. No sooner are the boxes unpacked than their little son falls into a mysterious coma.
Months pass by. The boy is still comatose, and poor Renai starts to see and hear things more terrifying than medical bills. At her insistence they move into a more modern, brightly lit home.
This is when the “harmful but enticing” stuff kicks in.
Blending elements from “Poltergeist,” “The Shining,” and “Paranormal Activity” (at least they borrow from the best), the team that gave us “Saw” gives us increasing chills, genuine freakouts — and cloven hooves.
As I sank lower in my seat, I noticed the audience had grown very quiet. That, and the goosebumps on the back of my neck are hallmarks of a movie that doesn’t have to resort to bloodshed to give us a great scare.
JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender’s office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.
SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a financial services company.