Toronto After Dark Film Festival Review: MEGA TIME SQUAD (2018)

Just when you thought the only way to tell a complex time travel story combined with non-stop laughs was to get Futurama to do it, MEGA TIME SQUAD rocked up and blew that all out of the water.

This low budget sci-fi comedy doesn’t leave anything out.  It has demons, gangsters, time travel, and an overflowing pot of 80’s nostalgia.  Writer/ Director Tim van Dammen’s passion for those things is palpable the entire way through, and you can almost sense him laughing from behind the camera.

When the two bit low level gangster, John, decides to steal a score out from under this boss, Shelton, he stumbles across a mysterious Chinese bracelet that comes complete with a warning of a demon.  Thinking he’s pulled off the job, John is ambushed by Shelton’s crew. Whilst trying to escape, John sees a familiar face that instructs him to push the button on his bracelet. Suddenly finding himself a few minutes back him time, he gathers that this “temporal relocator” has the power to let him correct mistakes, and create a bevy of time duplicates.  Working together, the Squad of time duplicate Johns, formulate a plot to save themselves, evade the time demon, and feed their ambitions.

Those familiar with New Zealand humour in the vein of What we do in the Shadows will be right at home here.  The unique NZ style has dialogue that is both cracklingly dry, and full of slap stick slang.  I am already excited to recycle their created turns of phrase.

Reminiscent of the heavy weights of its genre, MEGA TIME SQUAD keeps up with the rule driven Primer and Time Crimes and the magic of Looper and Highlander.  Much like those films, I am anxious to re-watch and map out the timeline of John Prime.  Slapping dry gags on top of the time travel, like Shelton angrily watching the time duplicate mess from a control room of surveillance screens, is what makes this film a unique stand out.  Much like Shaun of the Dead turned the Zombie genre on its side by having a “loveable idiot” tackle the familiar conflict, MEGA TIME SQUAD gives the “regular joe” treatment to time travel which results in countless laugh out loud moments.

Though her story line is not unique, Kelly is a fresh take on the damsel in distress, vocal that she doesn’t need or want saving, and takes control of every situation.  While the subject of a love story, she remains herself, and is often the ring leader behind this, uh, circus.

I found myself bent in half gasping for air on multiple occasions throughout this gem.  This film is tailor made for cult status and is a love letter to genre fans.

I honestly can’t wait to watch it again.

Lindsay Traves
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