You never know what you’ll find next. This is truly the age of the homemade film, thanks to the ready availability of the sorts of tools that past do-it-your-selfers could only have dreamed of. It is an age when a routine list of Youtube recommendations can uncover a film you’d never heard of — which proves to be something unexpected, something which explores an old trope like time travel and takes it into strange new territory.
Which brings us to this quirky little Canadian film which debuted with little fuss or attention back in 2016, one of those volunteer friends and family sort of films that are gradually becoming more common.
While cleaning out his grandfather’s garage, Glenn finds a cache of documents about a secret Cold War project his grandfather worked on. They include the schematics for a time machine — and even a reel of film showing that it worked!
Glenn is an expert at the sort of old school electronics the time machine used, and he knows that he could build the thing with the help of his friend Pete who is a mechanic. But once they build it, it doesn’t work the way they expect it to, with rather strange results…
This is an impressive film, particularly for a first film — and for one made by volunteers. It doesn’t look homemade (although, to be fair, that’s true of a lot of garage films these days) and the decision to shoot in black and white gives it a great look and feel that just seems right for this story. It was all shot on location and has a very authentic feel as a result.
But it is the writing that stands out here: this is more than just a Primer-style story of obsession, as the script explores the effects their obsession has not just on the two but on those around them. But beyond that, we have the story of Glenn’s reluctant attitude towards his job (even if it is one he does very well) and his budding romance; and the story of the deep loving relationship Pete has with Nikki — something that will become one of the most important parts of the whole film.
And in the end Reset reveals itself to be something quite different from what we thought it was, and concludes in a strange place where no time travel movie has gone before.
Reset is clearly a work of love and careful craftsmanship, whose excellent script is backed by solid and competent filmmaking. The director, Steve Austin Stihl, owns his own post-production studio, so you would hardly call him an amateur, but there’s a long way from the basics of filmmaking to a polished final product like this!
He and his co-director, Ty Reynolds, both get writing credits, although one suspects Steve’s thirty-year marriage may have been the model for Pete and Nikki as his love for his wife sort of bubbles over into the bio he provided on IMDB
However, Reset also gets the relationship between Glenn and Pete right. It comes across as a genuine male friendship, complete with stresses and strains, something Hollywood struggles to get right.
Or, as I said before, wow. This is a beautiful film and it should be interesting to see what these two do next.
But I’m going to have to go back and rewatch some of this film, to see if I can spot that DeLorean that drives by…
(For the 2017 Chinese Action film, see here)
2 thoughts on “Reset (2016)”
The director, Steve Austin Stihl, took some time off from his latest movie (and working on his beloved Dodge Charger with his wife) to send me this comment. Thanks Steve! I’m always glad to learn that I got everything right, or close enough!
I just read your review of our little sci/fi film Reset. Thanks for the great review. I passed it around and wanted to thank you on behalf of all of us involved in getting Reset out there. It was a pleasure to read such a well written piece. Almost all of our reviews are from the comments section on YouTube so they lack the professionalism of a genuine movie critic and writer so it was great for us to experience a real movie review.
Perhaps, most interesting to me personally was your analysis of the interpersonal relationships story wrapped in a dark sci/fi. At its core it was just an old fashioned love story. At the time of the writing and shooting of Reset, Ty was a committed bachelor and on occasion would ask the actors if couples would behave or respond in that way. So Kudos for picking up on that story behind the story aspect of the script.
I’m pleased with the Glenn character arc you wrote about. We tried to emphasize that arc by showing Glenn uncomfortable and disheveled in a suit after his promotion but by films end he was all buttoned up, figuratively and literally. We also showed Glenn and Pete only in 1 shots as their relationship deteriorated towards the end of the film, and would cut to 2 shots with Glenn and Jane. We also shot Glenn and Pete in 1 shot, awkward, off-centre angles in the confrontation about Pete’s time travel obsession at Discount Dan’s to emphasize the discomfort at their separation. Eventually, in the final scene between them in the garage we put them back together in a 2 shot.
We also used an old time Hollywood film language technique ‘the reveal’ to introduce the main characters. The first main character, Glenn, is revealed only through the rear view mirror until he steps out of the car. Pete is revealed when he pops up from working under the hood of a car.
Speaking of cars, unfortunately the DeLorean drove by when our camera was pointing the wrong direction during an auto repair shop scene.
I’m pleased you dig the monochrome look, not everyone does even if they like the film. From the very beginning we saw Reset as a hard light, film noir look. We needed deep shadow and hard light to make those garage scenes work.
I should probably stop here. Like you I am a film fan and could talk film until the battery on my device dies.
Thanks again Mark.
All the best with your career and Rivets on the Poster.
Kind Regards, Steve