Friday, June 21, 2024


THE STORY – Frankie, a young mother with dyschronometria, struggles to perceive time. Using cassette tapes for guidance, she takes a risky job from a mysterious woman to support her family, unaware of the dark consequences that await.

THE CAST – Jack Alberts, Jarrett Austin Brown, Mitchell Cetuk, Marcia DeBonis, Renee Gagner, Marianne Goodell, Frank Huerta, Tommy Kang, Ariella Mastroianni, Emma Pearson, Annie Pisapia, Grant Schumacher, Sheilagh Weymouth & LeJon Woods

THE TEAM – Ryan J. Sloan (Director/Writer) & Ariella Mastroianni (Writer)

THE RUNNING TIME – 114 Minutes

As argued in the magnetic writings of French Philosopher Gilles Deleuze, his vital continuation of theories founded within his academically-proclaimed book “Cinema 2: The Time Image” (1985) judicially describes cinema’s relation with time. Citing Sergei Eiesentein’s Soviet Montage theory as the basis for his observation, Deleuze argues that montage provides the dimensionality of time within cinema’s editorial framework. Alterations, conflicts, resolutions, and resonances distinguish the perception of time with the spectator. Cinema is dependent on the allusions of time, and the duration is dependent on the effectiveness of its groundwork. In the case of Ryan J. Sloan’s debut feature, “Gazer,” the persistence of the edit examines the interiority of the film’s lead heroine and her rare neurological condition. Akin to Deleuze’s seminal text, dyschronometria takes hold of the narrative structure. Sloan cleverly subverts the cinematic form in a disorienting fashion, subjugating the spectator into the headspace of Gazer’s protagonist, Frankie. The matriarchal point of view examines the quotidian quarrels within her surrounding ableist infrastructure.

Mirrored images, evocative colors, and refracted light dissociate the spectator’s gaze. As the film progresses, Sloan explores the circumstances of his protagonist’s world through an empathetic lens. The necessity of the humanistic drama unfolds with a delirious mystery. “Gazer,” as a bi-product of its alluring form, advances with the same intensity as a Hitchcockian psychological thriller. The editorial methodology recalls the cinematic delirium of films such as “Vertigo,” “Images,” and “The Conversation.” On the other hand, the visual extremities are reminiscent of the molecular 16mm pastiche of an early Safdie Brothers production. The nerve-wracking tension is amplified through the invasiveness of the auditory space, dictating the rhyme and lack of reason within the extrapolated edit. Contributing to the effectiveness of the dissociative filmmaking is Steve Matthew Carter’s saxophone-heavy instrumentalization, which enforces a sonic semblance of internalized instability.

Sloan emphasizes the unpredictable narrative progression through the orality of tape recordings. These simple — albeit essential — storytelling gambits provide the film’s introspection. Frankie’s narration is consumed by perseverance and grief as the dialogue wanes in the tragedy of her backstory. While it is a clever weaponization of the cinematic form, Sloan’s debut unfortunately collapses under the weight of his amateurish ambitions. However, the contextualization of the form allows the viewer to step into the shoes of a protagonist with a unique degenerative ailment — the questionable references surrounding the film’s conflict needlessly prolong the gratuitous paranoia.

During one nightmarish overdose sequence, Sloan pays direct tribute to the new flesh. Within the Cronenbergian head-space, “Gazer” indulges in the aestheticization of Frankie’s disability. References to “Videodrome” and “eXistenZ” feel unearned, as the direct context of the aforementioned Canadian cult classics are radically motivated by different systemic causes. Thus, “Gazer” inadvertently prioritizes the mechanics of a neon-bathed genre amalgamation over its inciting cinematic ode to dyschronometria. After all, time is of the essence within the intricate structure. Instead of elaborating and providing depth towards the climactic Big Pharma critique, Sloan deviates his time away from the cinematic condemnations at hand.

The exasperated reverberations are also struck by the pedantic implementation of expository dialogue. Gazer’s screenplay forces needless lines in hushed scenes, which informs the themes through the literality of the conversations. The confidence of the metronomic edit communicates the same intended information, as Sloan’s direction permits subtext through brief glances and evocative stares. A similar issue arises in regard to the film’s blocking. While the actors are positioned to enforce a physiological and allegorical distance from one another within the shooting space, the awkward stature and mannerisms lack naturalism. The technical fallacies are admirable from a distance and are best described as directorial fingerprints left at the scene of a first-feature crime.

Conceptually speaking, “Gazer” succeeds with its unique premise, which aptly takes advantage of the boisterous possibilities of the cinematic form. No credits? No problem! For a feature largely self-produced by two devoted cinephilic lovers, the determined dyschronometria portrait at the helm of their ambiguous resolution provides a refreshing twist. The indirect repeat of words at the exact start and end of the film’s timeline twists the viewer’s own spectatorship. “Gazer” forces its audience to question the reliability of the on-screen testimony. Sloan pulls the rug from his viewer’s feet in an attempt to seek solace within the nihilistic ambiguity of the devastating finale. The future is still bright for Ryan J. Sloan and Ariella Mastroianni. If anything, “Gazer” succeeds within its provocative imperfections, amplifying the need for neurodivergent perspectives in the mainstream.


THE GOOD - Ryan J. Sloan transports the viewer into the shoes of a protagonist with dyschronometria. The dissociative editing and affecting score power the film’s disorienting embodiments of time misperception.

THE BAD - Questionable references and other gratuitous detours hinder the deeper messaging at the crux of the film’s climactic finale.



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<b>THE GOOD - </b>Ryan J. Sloan transports the viewer into the shoes of a protagonist with dyschronometria. The dissociative editing and affecting score power the film’s disorienting embodiments of time misperception.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>Questionable references and other gratuitous detours hinder the deeper messaging at the crux of the film’s climactic finale.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b>None<br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>6/10<br><br>"GAZER"