User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 94 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 79 out of 94
  2. Negative: 11 out of 94

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  1. Nov 15, 2014
    If you are trying to absorb this film in the same fashion that you would a box office topping flick, you will be lost, and disappointed at the end. This plot does no "hand holding" and is as ambiguous as it is hard to follow in the first place. However, in its over-complexities, a light of genius shines in its ability to be an experience rather than a casual, two hour suspension from reality. This indie thought provoking piece will grab your college degree and break it in half. While usually being thrown in with an "Inception" this film creates no basis of time or space to go off of. You control you're own interpretation of this film. People make charts and graphs on this movie just to understand what is happening and when. Truly a mentally challenging experience that is as strange as it is intriguing. Expand
  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.
  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. Expand
  4. Jan 24, 2014
    In today’s day and age, we throw around the phrase “mind-blowing” a lot ( probably published three articles this morning that contain the phrase…the other articles are insinuating that you don’t know anything). However, I have to say that “Primer” is as close to a real life instance of my mind actually exploding! The way this film handled time travel came off frighteningly realistic and, if it wasn’t for the below average acting, you could easily think it was a documentary on the discovery of time travel. Even though the acting isn’t great, the film delivers an incredibly intelligent script that actually challenges the viewer and is, quite possibly, the smartest, most realistic, science fiction film I have ever seen. Expand
  5. Dec 7, 2013
    After failing to market the machines commercially, the inventors discover something shocking, they’ve actually created time machines. In a non-descript storage facility in the suburbs sit these mysterious machines, the culmination of hard work done at nights and on weekends; the capital for the machine’s production, all the funds the group could muster.

    Conscientious from the beginning,
    the men predict the dangers of their creation. They profess their not wanting to alter the past. They try to keep the project quiet, under wraps from world, but things easily get out of control amongst themselves. Aghast at their errors, they try to set things right, but since time travel functions according unknown sets of laws different from those of linear time, the concocted logical solutions to their problem end up becoming just additional steps towards disaster.

    Supposedly made for only $7000, this film is a marvel. Not only is it a fascinating story, the camera work and the production value is very good. With long scenes, and thoughtful performances by the cast, this quasi Sci-fi/Arthouse film is a visual pleasure to watch. It doesn’t screen as a low budget thriller.

    While Director/Writer Shane Carruth’s vision isn’t exactly crystal clear, and this mystery is part of the charm. For a film about a complex subject like time travel, the success is in Carruth’s ability to purvey the concept with very little flare. Everything seems to have aligned perfectly here. That is not to say it is the greatest film ever, but for a movie about such complicated subject matter, the bare-bones approach is very interesting. The script and characters talk about what they know. A narrator fills us in on a few more key details. Then the rest we are left to figure out on our own. As a sci-fi thriller this film works very well.
  6. Jul 29, 2013
    Primer is one of the most overrated Science Fiction films ever made and possibly one of the most overrated indie films. What has impressed crittics and sf fans is the Chinese Puzzlebox plot, which takes advantage of time travel parodoxes and closed causal loops (something in the future causes something to happen in the past). The idea is fine, but the execution is a shambles. Shane Carruth shows very limmited understanding about things like dialogue, characterization, or even how to keep a shot in focus. No one in this movie can give us more than a wooden performance and the characters are never really engaging or interesting. The music (composed by Carruth) is a kind of generic indipendent film music (minimal piano treble...that's brilliant!) that makes the mediocre compositions of John Carpenter seem like John Williams in comparison. I had no problem with the techno-jargon. But that does not a great science fiction film make. It's just a lame attempt at versimilitude to convince the audience that the hokey time machine could really work. With uncompelling characters and meandering, pointless dialogue, this film fails to be engaging from a dramatic standpoint. People just like the film's idea. Fair enough. But that would have been better served by a 20 minute indie film than this tedious feature. Expand
  7. Jul 22, 2013
    I think it was "Esquire" that called this the best sci-fi film since "2001." High praise, but right on the mark. This is a brilliant film that accomplishes what no time travel movie has ever done, focusing on the people rather than on the gimmick.
  8. May 18, 2013
    An independent film full of nice ideas but maybe without the budget to fully realise some of their potential. Nicely scripted, although I did find it a little too ‘wordy’ in places. Performance wise; both Shane Carruth and David Sullivan did an excellent job. The film hangs on these two characters and I thought they both pulled it off to an excellent standard! I found the film quite absorbing at first; there’s enough mystery there and I know enough about engineering for it to keep my interest. It did, however, become a little wearing towards the end, I think because the film relies so much on the dialogue between Aaron and Abe to tell the story and there is so much to take in that I found I was in ‘dialogue overload’ by the end. I think I’ll probably have to watch it again sometime to fully appreciate it, but well worth a look; it’s an interesting take on the time travel theme.

    SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

    My score: 7.1/10
  9. Apr 17, 2013
    Absolutely mind-blowing, and not because the plot is so engaging itself. Carruth spares the vernacular for scientific jargon and feels no remorse, and THAT is what is so intriguing. We don't want to watch it a thrid or fourth time because of the story. We watch it again and again because we want to know what the hell is going on.
  10. Feb 11, 2013
    Low budget for sure, but they do a great job with it. Creepy, compelling, confusing and paranoiac, a good little movie. Will appeal to fans of Phillip K Dick I imagine. I liked it a lot, the plot I think deliberately confusing and hard to follow, and it works well. That is the nature of time travel I guess, to the rest of us trapped in linear causality type existences.
  11. Jan 26, 2013
    I would echo Printninja's review, but I'm so frustrated that I actually paid money to rent this movie I feel the need to put that dissatisfaction into my own words. From the minute this festering turd of a film starts, one is subjected to a scene with uninitiated characters spouting overly-complex dialogue that makes zero sense to the layperson. Or maybe the biggest problem was that there was nothing remotely interesting about the story, or any of the characters for that matter, that made me CARE to figure out what they were trying to accomplish. They're computer nerds tinkering in the garage, seemingly trying to come up with some new product to make money. And they accomplish this by constantly, without respite, speaking technical jargon that won't make sense to anyone short of Physics PhDs, experienced Engineers, or Computer Science geniuses. Does that sound like an interesting plot? If so, go for it. But don't say you weren't warned. Expand
  12. Jan 20, 2013
    It's for the few. If you're not the type, it's only interesting as an experiment. If you can follow the film's logic and most of the plot, it's a succesful experiment. Gets special points for making something so intricate and special out of such simple props.
  13. Jun 29, 2012
    A truly breathtaking science fiction film, Primer manages to avoid one of the major pitfalls when attempting to make a compelling science fiction film, and does so with some considerable swagger. Where so many of its forebears have been reluctant to challenge its audiences with scientific jargon, Primer refuses to compromise itself by 'dumbing down' its content. The film tells the story of two friends who, whilst working from Aaron's (Shane Corruth) garage of a night building and selling JTAG cards, stumble across a technology that appears to move substances through time. It's true, for those without any particular scientific aptitude, this content becomes relatively complex and hard to follow. Nevertheless, this films delves deeper than this, posing many questions concerning the responsibilities that come with possessing unlimited power. However, if you are thinking the entanglement ends there, Primer has another ace up it's sleeve. With a plot that meanders more than a knotted snake, a repeat viewing becomes essential if you really intend to grasp the storyline in its fullness. A film in this mold is always likely to draw criticism due to its heavy plot lines and, at times, bewildering scientific concepts. Yet it is precisely here, in my opinion, that Primer acquires most of its gold stars. Intellectually stimulating and wonderful in its construction, Primer is science fiction in its purest form. Expand
  14. Mar 19, 2012
    Although I feel the movie is rather confusing and unclear at times, overall it was still a pretty decent film. It didn't waste much time to watch and for how little of a budget the film had to spend I can't help but feel impressed by the film. The filmography of the film was great quality, and the acting was as well. Story issues aside, the rest of the film was quite impressive. I don't know if I can really say I would recommend this film to most viewers other than general film enthusiasts of a particular kind. Personally, I'm glad I took the time out of my day to view the film, but I have a feeling most audiences will either be bored, confused, or both. For my full review, visit Expand
  15. Xen
    Mar 19, 2012
    interesting, at some points confusing, time-travel film. The acting wasn't great but they did the job and the premise of the film really did give it some sci-fi charm.
  16. Jan 25, 2012
    Unsensational, clever, quietly scary, confusing sci fi with good acting to boot. I can't believe they made this film for $7000. I really liked the direction too.
  17. Jun 22, 2011
    (10.0) Awesome. The best Sci-fi serious in this century. How can you make a great movie with great head and a tight budget.
    Escuchar Waiting eagerly to the new work from me, since I saw this movie, new idol.
  18. 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.

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 25
  2. Negative: 2 out of 25
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 88
    It is maddening, fascinating and completely successful.