After enjoying films like RESOLUTION and THE ENDLESS, I’ve reached a point where I’ll watch any film Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead put together. Their latest, SYNCHRONIC (2020, streaming on Google Play), is their best yet. It was produced by XYZ Films, which has become a fairly reliable source of solid, independent horror movies.
In SYNCHRONIC, two New Orleans paramedics keep coming across victims of a new designer drug that produces a bizarre, otherworldly effect. Steve is a ladies’ man who confronts the emptiness of his life when he finds out he’s ill, while Dennis is married with kids and is feeling restless. When the drug affects them close to home, Steve has to use the drug himself to try to save people he loves.
Benson and Moorhead do a great job as always by focusing on likeable characters dealing with an extraordinary event and making the strange blend with the mundane. For this film, they clearly had a larger budget but used it wisely, sticking with their roots while touching up the special effects. One thing I particularly like about them is how well they tease the reveals for the horror or sci-fi element. For example, instead of the typical Hollywood approach of seeing paramedics doing their jobs once, the horror element appears, and then they pretty much never do their jobs again, the film sticks with it, allowing the characters, plot, and weird element to develop naturally.
I had one small complaint, which is the theme is pretty on the nose–Steve envying Dennis for his married life, and Dennis envying Steve for his freedom. The way it’s spelled it out, becomes a source of conflict, and then the way it’s all patched up with a new understanding, feels kind of rote. But again, it’s a small complaint for what is otherwise a very solid sci-fi/horror film that further cemented XYZ as one of my favorite production companies and Benson and Moorhead as two of my favorite directors. Recommended.