Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 25
  2. Negative: 2 out of 25
  1. 100
    Primer unites physics and metaphysics in an ingenious guerrilla reinvention of cinematic science fiction.
  2. Consider Primer a successful lab experiment with, as they might say in techie chat rooms, significant indie-cred applications, IMHO. Oh, and :-).
  3. 90
    A half-baked conspiracy subplot in the last third makes Carruth's knotty narrative even harder to follow, but this is still scary, puzzling, and different.
  4. 88
    It is maddening, fascinating and completely successful.
  5. An ingenious blend of sci-fi and mystery.
  6. Reviewed by: Aaron Hillis
    Refusing to dumb down for a mass market, Primer is "Mullholland Dr." for math geeks, "Memento" for mad geniuses, or simply one of the most inventive films ever made for pennies on the Hollywood dollar.
  7. 80
    A dense and dazzling science-fiction mind-bender unassumingly dressed up in a tech geek’s short-sleeved oxford shirt, pocket protector and safety goggles.
  8. 80
    A brainteaser of the first order, Primer ranks among the best of recent thrillers such as "Memento" or "The Matrix," which rupture the fabric of reality and radically destabilize the narrative in kind.
  9. It's hard to always know what Primer is saying or where it's heading, but it looks fantastic while it unfolds and you won't be able to forget what you've witnessed.
  10. The screenplay is convoluted but fascinating, flawed less by its built-in complexity than by the limitations of the characters' psychological depth.
  11. 75
    Primer is obviously not for all tastes, but if it connects with you, prepare to be obsessed.
  12. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Shane Carruth's extraordinary work of shoestring speculation throws you into a deep ocean of techno-jargon and lets you dog-paddle or sink like a stone.
  13. The movie may be too precious for mass consumption, but its filmmakers' willingness to assume the best of their audience, combined with its Everyman origins, suggest a movie that deserves a chance.
  14. Reviewed by: Carina Chocano
    Frustrating as I ultimately found it, Primer is undeniably geek heaven. For everyone else, it's a nice antidote to big-budget bogusness.
  15. Reviewed by: Robert Dominguez
    One of those purposely head-scratching films meant to be viewed more than once. The extra ticket sales should easily cover Carruth's initial $7,000 budget.
  16. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    It's a puzzle as much as a plot, but when it's in focus (which it isn't for long stretches) it's remarkable brain-food.
  17. At a certain point, Mr. Carruth's fondness for complexity and indirection crosses the line between ambiguity and opacity, but I hasten to add that my bafflement is colored by admiration.
  18. May be too clever for its own good. Essentially, it's the story of weekend scientists who build a time machine in a suburban garage. But this nearly gets lost in a miasma of technical jargon and scientific conjecture.
  19. Reviewed by: Neva Chonin
    Doesn't always work, but it challenges, nonetheless.
  20. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    A fascinatingly obtuse puzzle box that manages to be gripping even after it stops making sense.
  21. Love it or hate it, you won't be able to leave it alone.
  22. Every frame of the way, it's eminently clear that Primer is the work of an engineer, not a film- maker.
  23. 40
    Inspires plenty of head scratching and maybe a little irritation.
  24. As Primer progresses, it just gets murkier and the experience of it more drudgelike.
  25. 25
    A real head-scratcher that somehow won the grand jury prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 91 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 40
  2. Negative: 7 out of 40
  1. Aug 27, 2010
    A minor miracle of a film, this movie manages to pull off everything a major motion picture should have (great scripting, amazing acting, drama, etc.) with a mere budget of ~$7,000. It's simultaneously captivating, confusing, frustrating, and in the end, completely gratifying - even if you can't put all the pieces together on the first viewing. I already can't wait to watch it again. Full Review »
  2. Sep 23, 2014
    Classic cult film and a must-see for anyone who likes strange plots full of twists. I needed watching it a couple of times before being able to fully grasp all details. Time travel, oh yes, like it or hate it, but there it is. Full Review »
  3. Aug 10, 2014
    I usually pay attention to details while watching a movie and am able to conclude the story at the end, but Primer is impossibly hard to follow. I could figure out what was going on only after reading a huge explanation article. The story is really complex as it is based on time travels, but I repeat myself, you probably won't dig it if you just watch the movie once. The other problem is Primer is really boring, most of the time nothing happens, the characters seem to take their discovery pretty casually. I respect that most of the work was made by one man, but still it could be much better. Full Review »