It’s rare that one gets to see a film that cost $7,000 but that’s precisely what Primer cost to make. Primer is a high concept science fiction drama that is heavy on ideas and doesn’t pander to the mainstream. Using technical dialogue and realistic sounding science, the movie doesn’t make any attempt to open itself up to the masses or explain itself in layman’s terms. As a result, Primer is a film that is at times impossible to follow but when it’s at its best, it’s a film that opens up some and explores some fascinating ideas about causality, fate, consequence and friendship. Shane Carruth acts almost as a one man crew with credits as actor, writer, director, producer, editor and composer.
The plot focuses on the efforts of four engineers who work for a large corporation but on the side produce circuit boards which fund their own inventions. Two of the men break off and develop a strange machine for which a purpose is difficult to ascertain. After some preliminary tests they discover that a watch placed inside the machine appears to come out with much more time passing than on the outside. Wary of the concept and implications of their machine, they keep it a secret but slowly begin to experiment with its possibilities with strict instructions that causality must not be affected.