Clocking Out

Six months into the future, Ethan (Michael Kopelow) kills two people. Tricky circumstances for a passive, non-killing time traveller when he arrives to see his eventual self covered in blood.

That dazzling premise cuts itself short – Counter Clockwise’s chewy plotline struggles with a misread seriocomic tone, decorated by some splashy camerawork which resists the low-budget underside. Ethan’s journey, both forward and backward in the timeline, drip feeds narrative points, perking up for a series of tantalizing self-encounters before settling on a fizzling conclusion.

Getting there has its joy. Although overexerted by way of the stretched thin runtime, Kopelow is convincing in the lead role, panicked and delirious as he pieces together a warped timeline. Clever cinematography keeps pace as it can, accentuating Ethan’s confusion and adding life to what would otherwise be mundane action scenery – chases, loose gunplay, and kidnappings. Credit to a crafty indie team for making Counter Clockwise look so exclusive.

Credit to a crafty indie team for making Counter Clockwise look so exclusive.

Counter Clockwise comes dressed with screwy bit parts, filling the budget-inhibited but uniquely odd California setting. Attempts at humor, from a thirsty disabled man to stiffened store clerk, add levity to a decidedly morbid time travel spin.

Where then some queasy sexual desires fit into this is Counter Clockwise’s greater mystery, more than the twisty sci-fi who-done-it meant as the center. Ethan’s galling, context-less encounter with a backseat rapist seems a moment of wild misjudgment, then superseded by a bawdier act in the closing chapter. Any sense of Counter Clockwise’s cleverness (and it offers some) evaporates under the weight of its gratuitousness.

Come the finale, Counter Clockwise merely feels irate, throwing on a white collar, anti-corporate agenda which neither has build-up or pay-off. Greater implications from Ethan’s family calamity, caused by his own actions, feels discarded while the tantalizing core of Counter Clockwise slips to the wayside. It’s an uncomfortable and arguably unfinished finale, at odds with the genuinely heady premise.


Struggling at 1080p, Counter Clockwise was either shot at lower resolution or this master is less so. Crippling aliasing and even signs of moire sit on this transfer, leaving the murky images with another element to overcome.

Pervasive noise enters any low light shot, Artsploitation’s encode handling what it can if finding it impossible to stave off noticeable macroblocking. Grayed out black levels won’t help, unlike some instances of extreme contrast.

Hints of detail survive, mostly in close-up. Color is generally drained into the soupy gray tones.


Stick with the stereo mix. It’s standard Dolby Digital either way, but the flailing 5.1 mix only distracts rather than enhance. Poor positioning means stereos sound like one channel with little separation. Outside of a brief run through a club which naturally fills the soundstage, emphasis sits in the fronts. The stereo track contains things better.

That aside, dialog quality is better than the standard for a lower budget indie, clear and precise, while focused entirely on the center.


A great making-of digs in and finds a bevy of interesting production details, interspersed with interviews. At 27-minutes, it’s worth a watch. Five deleted scenes offer commentary if you choose. The movie itself offers three commentaries, all with first time feature director George Moise. On the opening track, he’s solo. The second he pairs with writer/editor Walter Moise, and finally star Michael Kopelow on the third. It’s a bit of overkill, although excitement for the project fills each track.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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Ethan kills people in the future and catches himself in the act, then spends a day sorting it out in this failed sci-fi thriller.

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