Barry's Time Travel Review Score
Hi, this is Barry, and welcome to my site. Synchronic is a 2019 science-fiction film written and directed by the duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, who gave us the world of Spring, Resolution and The Endless. The movie is centred on a drug by the name Synchronic, causing a series of deaths in the country. The two lead characters (paramedics) follow the drug-trail, realizing that what people are experiencing is more than just hallucinations. That the drug causes people to slip through the fabric of time. Head’s up, the movie is not a fast-paced thriller, so be mentally prepared for a slow pace. The film’s non-linearity raises a couple of questions, so here’s the plot analysis and ending of the movie Synchronic explained, spoilers ahead.
To find where to stream any movie or series based on your country, use This Is Barry’s Where To Watch. Oh, and if this article doesn’t answer all of your questions, drop me a comment or an FB chat message, and I’ll get you the answer. You can find other film explanations using the search option on top of the site.
Hollywordle – Check out my new Hollywood Wordle game!
Where To Watch?
To find where to stream any movie or series based on your country, use This Is Barry’s Where To Watch.
Oh, and if this article doesn’t answer all of your questions, drop me a comment or an FB chat message, and I’ll get you the answer. You can find other film explanations using the search option on top of the site.
Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:
Is Synchronic set in the same Universe as Resolution and The Endless?
Yes. Director Justin Benson pretty much spells it out in this podcast below (at 4:20). Synchronic is a drug synthesized from a red flower that only grows in a very isolated California desert region. This is the location where Resolution and The Endless take place, and it also explains the time-travel side effect of the drug. However, the movie Synchronic does not connect with either the plot or the characters of Resolution or The Endless. So you can watch it stand-alone.
What is Synchronic? What is that thing about the Pineal gland?
Synchronic is a fictional synthetic drug that makes a person experience time non-linearly. The movie proposes a theory that the pineal gland can be activated in humans (and other animals) to let them experience time in a non-linear manner. The film theorizes that time is only an illusion and the one-event-after-another way is only something we perceive. The Synchronic drug messes with the pineal gland allowing people to break away from the linearity of time, meaning time-travel. Now, the pineal gland calcifies with age, limiting older people to merely peek into another time in an ethereal form. However, younger people actually get physically transported to the other time.
I’m sure if you belong to the medical profession, you’re thinking, “now, wait, what?!?” but it’s the filmmakers taking liberties with creative freedom. I guess this is as believable or unbelievable as Superman’s flight.
Why is Synchronic causing people to die?
Well, it’s not. Synchronic is merely taking its consumers to a different time. The circumstances are such that drug users end up dying. The movie also theorizes that time-travel to the past mostly leads people into a hostile situation (that’s just the way it is). Let’s take a few examples from the movie:
- The woman in the hotel room ends up going to the past and being bitten by a snake. The entire experience and venom from the bite leave her in a stupor.
- The man in the lift is taken to a time when there was (will be?) a dessert at that spot. But since he’s on a higher floor, he ends up falling, which kills him. His body makes it back at the base of the elevator shaft.
- The burned body is someone who had the misfortune of travelling back to the precise instant when that place was a burning room in an old amusement park.
This doesn’t mean that everyone who consumed the pill always died. It just that we know of the ones who did because our two leads are paramedics and their encounters.
What are the time-travel rules in the movie Synchronic?
Steve eventually consumes Synchronic to figure out the true nature of the drug. The rules he figures out are:
- The drug takes the person by specific number of years in time based on their physical location. Even minor location changes cause a drastic impact to the destination time.
- Young people get entirely transported for a period of 7 minutes. This is because of their non-calcified pineal gland. Older people turn ghost-like and get a glimpse of the other time.
- One needs to be in the same location at the end of the 7 minutes to return to their time, else they will remain trapped in the other time.
- In case the person is late to return to their original spot at the 7th minute, they will need to take another pill of Synchronic, wait 7 minutes, and be at the base-spot to return to their time.
- Anything held physically by the time traveller will move through time with them but end up being distorted.
Who is Steve? What’s his backstory?
Steve is a good man who regrets not looking for real love in his life. He has faced the pain of the loss of his family (including his young sister). He’s a genuine friend and, in all, a great guy. However, he’s got a tumour on his pineal gland, which is killing him. The odd nature of the tumour has kept his pineal gland from calcifying – making him one of the rare adults who can physically travel through time by taking Synchronic.
Who is Dennis? What’s his story?
In Steve’s eyes, his childhood buddy Dennis has everything going great for him. But Dennis is just a whiner and seems to have complaints about various aspects of his life and family. He does unconditionally love his eldest daughter, Brianna, who is soon going to move out of their house.
Who is Dr Kermani? What is he up to?
Dr Kermani is the chemist who created Synchronic. The company he works for manufactures synthetic drugs that are legal variants of illegal substances. The company rushed Synchronic to the market without realizing that the drug is not just hallucinatory but actually transports people across time.
Dr Kermani sincerely repents creating the drug as it has been causing people to return dead or get lost in time. He is going around the country and buying off the remaining quantities of the drug from stores systematically. After getting rid of all of the drugs, Dr Kermani intends to commit suicide as he can’t live with the death of so many at his hands. At a later point in the movie, the radio news mentions Dr Kermani was found dead due to cyanide intake.
What happened to Brianna in the movie Synchronic? Where is she?
Brianna, like many, happens to consume Synchronic. She wanders away to her favourite rock. The drug kicks in, and she’s transported to the days of the [civil?] war. This part is not shown in the film, but freaking out, Brianna moves away from the rock and runs for cover. She remains trapped in the past and stays hidden among dead bodies for a couple of days. Remember, an equal number of days elapses in the present.
Steve and Dennis happen to be at the house where someone has OD’d and realize Brianna was there too and has gone missing. Not knowing her whereabouts, Dennis begins to assume the worst, which causes a rift between him and his wife.
Steve’s time-travel and the sad story of his dog
Steve manages to get his hands on 8 pills in the movie Synchronic. This is how he uses them.
- The first one takes him back to the era when his house’s location was still an unpumped swamp. He manages to return just before he’s killed by an alligator and a Spanish Conquistador.
- His next trip is back to the ice age (perhaps 12,000 years ago), where he sees a caveman and a mammoth.
- He goes back to that same moment in the ice age, but this time with wood and fuel to start a fire. Observe that the time difference between the present and the past is fixed. Steve took a few moments in the present to go back, and the same duration has elapsed in the past.
- Steve goes back to the 1950s when his house was already built but has a run-in with the KKK. His objective was to confirm if he can bring back organic life with him by mere touch. His dog, Hawking, manages to go back to the past with him without the drug. But because he leaves the base-spot, Steve and Hawking do not return at the end of the 7th minute.
- In the 1950s, Steve returns at night with Hawking to the base-spot (the couch) and takes a pill. Steve only manages to grab on to the leash when he returns, causing poor Hawking to be lost in time. Steve can’t go back for Hawking as he has only 3 pills left. One for Steve to go to when Brianna is and two to bring them both back (assuming Steve takes longer than 7 minutes to find Brianna).
- Thanks to incomplete information, Steve thinks Brianna was sitting on a chair on the roof when she took the pill. He takes a Synchronic while on the chair and goes back to an ancient time where a cult attacks him thinking he’s a spirit. Steve narrowly escapes capture and makes his way back.
- Steve tells Dennis about his tumour and shows video proof of his time travels. He asks Dennis what he would do if he were stuck somewhere in time. Dennis says he’d leave a permanent message somewhere. The two believe that the word “allways” on the rock was left by Brianna, and Steve takes a pill and sits on the rock. He’s taken back to the [civil?] war and manages to find Brianna. Steve gives Brianna his last Synchronic, and the two run back to the rock.
- Brianna takes the last pill.
Synchronic Movie Ending Explained: What happens to Steve?
A drunk, armed person holds Steve and Brianna at gunpoint. Steve tries to trick the crazy person into stepping on to a landmine. While he’s successful and the drunk explodes into a million pieces, Steve is late to join Brianna at the rock, and she returns to the present. The ending of the movie Synchronic shows us that with no more pills left, Steve is now trapped in the past. For a short moment, Dennis sees a fading Steve and shakes his hand has a “thank you for everything”. I thought this could have called for a hug, but a handshake it is.
Considering how tough it would be to survive that time, it’s likely that Steve gets killed sooner than the tumour could have gotten to him. It’s a tragic ending.
Who writes Allways on the rock in the movie Synchronic?
Brianna mentions that she didn’t leave any message on the rock. In the end, we see Steve sitting on the rock with nothing written. Not shown on screen, but Steve writes the word allways as a message to Dennis and completing a predestined causal loop of a misspelt word carved into a piece of rock. Steve didn’t have to, but I suppose he didn’t want to mess with time; the engraving doesn’t play any significant role in the film’s plot.
Barry is a technologist who helps start-ups build successful products. His love for movies and production has led him to write his well-received film explanation and analysis articles to help everyone appreciate the films better. He’s regularly available for a chat conversation on his website and consults on storyboarding from time to time.
Click to browse all his film articles