Easily the best science fiction movie in a decade, "Timecrimes" barely qualifies as a horror film. But, in a Frankensteinian way, it is a horror movie because the predicament its time traveling protagonist finds himself in is horrifying enough to remind the viewer it's never wise to play God.
Ironically, the main character of the film -- a middle aged man named Hector (Karra Elejalde), who has a loving wife and a penchant toward being a peeping Tom -- doesn't really set out to play God. Hanging out with his binoculars one afternoon in his backyard, he spots a gorgeous woman (Barbra Goenaga) stripping nearby. Moving in to see more, he finds what is apparently her body and is suddenly attacked by a strange man covered in pink bandages.
He runs for shelter and finds himself at some kind of scientific research institute, where an unassuming young man (played by the director, Nacho Vigalondo) tells him to hide. He dives into a tank and emerges to see the young man, confused at what has just emerged from the tank. Turns out, our hero entered a time machine and traveled back in time about 2 hours. He is now faced with a dilemna: There are two of himself in his current present: one at his home with his doting loving wife, and then himself -- basically a replicant from the very near future. How is he supposed to get his life back?
The events that go into play pretty much can only be described as, the title puts them, "timecrimes" as we learn that our protagonist is beyond selfish and ultimately gets put into the position of competing -- and even attacking -- his past self. Nevermind what he wants to do to the beautiful woman who lured him into his predicament. The film veers toward horror a bit. But it perhaps best can be described as a Spanish time traveling "Memento," if you remember that classic late 1990s film from Christopher Nolan.
One thing that I've noticed about recent Spanish horror is that it frequently feeds off Catholic guilt. Abortion frequently came up as a theme in the excellent "Tales to Keep You Awake" series. Morality is definitely a theme in "Timecrimes," with lust leading our hero astray and then a willingness to play God -- kidnapping people and forcing his time traveler technician to send him back in time again, to the moment just before he originally emerged from the tank -- making things even worse for him.
An excellent mindbender, "Timecrimes" was set to see limited theatrical release in the U.S. in December of 2008. An English language remake is inevitable. Known in Spain as "Los Cronicrimenes."