5 Low budget time travel movies you’ve probably missed


Time Travel is a fascinating subject, filled with paradoxes that wreck our brains. When you think about sci-fi you probably think boxoffice feature films like Avengers and Star Wars, but if you read “10 low budget movies that made big impacts” you’ll already know that even a movie like Mad Max was made with only $400,000.

Defining what makes a movie low budget can be hard, ranging from a few thousands to a “few” millions. In the world of Hollywood especially, most feature films have a budget of at least 100 million USD, often ranging up to 200-300 million USD. But not every sci-fi time travel movie rely on heavy CGI or actor salaries that break the bank. Surprisingly, many actors will lower their wage in the name of independent movie art.

With a niche like time travel it is actually not uncommon for movies to be made with a very tight budget. This probably has to do with the fact that it is more about conveying the concept and paradox rather than the special effects. When I think about time travel in movies I think of this trippy colorful wormhole that magically sucks something in and brings it to a different era. It’s definitely not a costly (nor original) scene. But there are definitely some gems out there who played with the concept of time travel in a more original way! Movies like Donnie Darko, 12 monkeys, The Terminator and The Butterfly Effect to name a few. That deserves a post of its own. Instead, we’ll take a closer look on some lesser-known time travel movies that you might have missed – and where you can watch them online!

Primer (2004) – As low budget as they come

Primer Time travel Paradox

Four tech-head friends who spend their days making inventions for fun accidently create a box that enables them to travel in time. The power and secrecy of this invention naturally creates tension between the friends, with Aaron and Abe (the only ones who realise its powers) agree to keep it a secret. So as Aaron and Abe figure out the invention, the two other friends are subtly excluded from the project.

The movie lacks action, being mostly a chamber play with intense dialogue and thought elements. It’s not a movie about handsome men flexing their muscles, rather about men flexing their brains. Unfortunately, the lacking action deprived the movie of the attention Primer so much deserves! It’s a brilliant movie that keeps you up at night trying to figure out what actually happened.

Primer collected the Grand Jury Prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. With a microscopic budget of $7000 the movie is a so called “family affair” – the writer also being the main character, and the other roles assigned to his friends and family.

You can watch Primer online on prime video or iTunes.

Timecrimes (2007) – Bends our brains with paradoxes

Timecrimes foreign movie

Timecrimes (Spanish: Los Cronocrímenes) introduces us to the typical guy named Hector (starred by Karre Elejalde) who with his binoculars is spying on a girl undressing in the woods. This is important. What he is witnessing is the beginning of an event he has already taken part in. So if he were to go on a closer inspection (which he does, being the creepy dude that he is) he’d risk meeting himself. This is something he already knows. Well, not him – the other him. See, I’m already messing with your head. Wait until you see the movie!

Just as Primer this foreign movie bends our brain with paradoxes, although it doesn’t make us feel as stupid. Timecrimes shows us what Hollywood can’t – that a good movie doesn’t require famous actors, sexy protagonists and expensive special effects to make for a great experience.

Watch Timecrimes on Netflix, Prime Video, iTunes or Vudu.

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) – A time travel movie about friendship

Safety not Guranteed low budget movie

A mysterious eccentric puts up an ad in a newspaper asking for companionship when time traveling, adding that “Safety Not Guaranteed”. Reporter Jeff (Jake Johnson) gather interns Darius (Aubrey Plaza) and Arnau (Karan Soni) to follow up on the ad. They quickly find the guy responsible, a man named Kenneth (Mark Duplass). Seemingly obsessed Kenneth lives in the middle of the woods, unchanged since his parents’ death and with tunnel vison for his ultimate goal – time travel.

Safety Not Guaranteed is a beautiful movie with dark humor, amazing dialogue and layered characters. The characters aren’t just defined as being “one thing”, like they often are in movies (i.e the stupid / the smart / the clown). It’s more a movie about friendship than it is about time travel, but the underlying question remains throughout the movie – is Kenneth insane or is it possible?

Watch Safety Not Guaranteed on Prime Video, Fandango, iTunes or Vudu.

Time Lapse (2015) – What if you knew your future?

Watch Time Lapse 2015

This low budget time travel movie follows Finn, his girlfriend Callie and their low-life roommate Jasper. Finn is an artist and also a building manager, which gives him unique access to the apartment complex. Concerned about their neighbor, Finn goes to check on him only to discover a mysterious camera that points straight into the trios living room. It turns out that the neighbor figured out a way to take polariod pictures that will show what will happen exactly 24 hours into the future. As the roommates start to exploit this mysterious future-predicting camera they soon find out that it can have devastating consequences.

Time Lapse explores what is predetermined and how much we can alter. The movie also dives deep into moral questions and examine the human psyche when faced with jealousy and rising tensions. We sit and watch in suspense as the story unravels.

Watch Time Lapse on Prime Video or iTunes

Sound Of My Voice (2012) – Cult leader or time traveler?

Watch Sound of my voice online

This low budget sci-fi thriller movie tells the story of a couple documentary-makers expose debut. We see Peter and Lorna whose mission is to expose a cult leader claiming to be a time traveler. As “new members” they arrive at the cult. The welcome is brief as they quickly instruct the couple to strip, shower, and changed clothes. The movie sets off when the couple finally meet the leader, Maggie, whose charisma penetrates even the most sceptical of minds. Peter and Lorna are far from immune to her soft loving voice. Maggie knows how to give attention, hope and a break from the busy world. And so the question become, are they being persuaded or does Maggie hold the truth?

The movie teases us throughout, as we try to stay level-headed, yet open enough for any twists and turns. Is Maggie the real deal or just another Manson? Peter and Lorna were so sure of their truth until  convinced them otherwise. So where does that leave us?

Watch Sound of My Voice only at Prime Video, iTunes, Fandango and Vudu

Written By


I've always had a deep love and fascination for movies, being an especially strong advocate for the weird, foreign, underrated, under-budgeted and unfairly NC17 rated films of our world. Cinesister is the embodiment of this passion (which some might call an obsession).

Reply your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*