The Incident is a variant on the timeloop film that we have seen in films such as Groundhog Day (1993) and more recently in Edge of Tomorrow (2014). In these and imitators, the protagonists have been forced to repeat the same limited strip of time over and over again with endless variation. The film that The Incident comes closest to is the amazing Triangle (2009) in which characters were forced to loop through the same events over and over as we saw dozens of discarded identical items nearby. There is the same sense here of characters trapped in the same single space akin to an M.C. Escher painting or a Moebius Strip where time progresses but they are unable to leave and the objects in their physical space keeps replicating and creating new copies every time they are moved. One of the most conceptually mind-boggling scenes here is where we jump forward thirty years into the future of the stairwell and see dozens of identical copies of the same books, discarded food wrappers, backpacks, water bottles and so on to the point that they are nearly filling the space. The film vies between these two parallel timeloops the two brothers trapped in the stairwell and the family in their car on a stretch of road.
I liked the films fascinatingly weird concept. Philip K. Dicks Time Out of Joint (1959) plays a significant part in the film the title could be a perfect description of the film, even if the books plot about a mans alternate version of reality is quite a different story to the one we have here. I kept expecting The Incident to break out into a reality bending work like Open Your Eyes (1997), Dark City (1998) or Oblivion (2013) where we get a stunning aha explanation as it eventually becomes apparent what is going on. The problem here is that about the point that Isaac Ezban comes to explaining what is going on, The Incident starts to get weird. I am not sure I fully followed the explanation we get something about alternate versions of a person being created in a pocket universe so that they can do all the emotional struggling of the original person throughout their life, which provides energy to young people (although apparently not for old people) to go forward. Towards the end, we see the two imprisoned people released and going on to live their various lives where it is simply not clear how the pocket universes feature in this.
Isaac Ezban subsequently went onto make The Similars (2015), another conceptually fascinating film about people trapped in a bus station who all start transforming into the same person.
(Screening at the Vancouver International Film Festival)