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Primer (2004)



Average Rating: 6.6/10
Reviews Counted: 119
Fresh: 86 | Rotten: 33

Dense, obtuse, but stimulating, Primer is a film for viewers ready for a cerebral challenge.


Average Rating: 6.5/10
Critic Reviews: 31
Fresh: 22 | Rotten: 9

Dense, obtuse, but stimulating, Primer is a film for viewers ready for a cerebral challenge.



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Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 43,669

My Rating

Movie Info

The debut feature from filmmaker Shane Carruth -- who wrote, directed, photographed, edited, scored, and stars -- Primer is a psychological sci-fi thriller about a group of four tech entrepreneurs. Toiling away in a garage, the quartet have successfully created error-checking systems for their clients. But their recent work seems to have created an unexpected and seemingly impossible side-effect. Suddenly, two members of the group realize they are in possession of a device that can double, or

Apr 5, 2005


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March 16, 2005:
Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival 2005
A 70-mm French comedy by Jacques Tati will open my 7th annual Overlooked Film Festival this April,...


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All Critics (125) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (86) | Rotten (33) | DVD (26)

Mind-bending thrillers like Primer are terrific viewing with your teenagers. Maybe if you're nice, they'll explain the ending to you.

February 8, 2008 Full Review Source: Denver Post | Comment (1)
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Scary, puzzling, and different.

June 4, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This film imagines its viewers to be smart, possessed of a decent attention span and game for a challenge. It doesn't happen all that often.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An unapologetically cerebral movie of ideas.

December 3, 2004 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
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It's one thing to admire what writer/director/composer/actor Shane Carruth wrought on his $1.98 digicam budget; it's quite another to have to sit through the mind-numbing results.

December 3, 2004 Full Review Source: Toronto Star | Comments (2)
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The ingenious debut of writer-director Shane Carruth, who assembled the film on his home computer and also plays one of the two leads, is purposely designed to be a little bewildering.

December 3, 2004 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Where's Doc Brown when you need him?

April 22, 2013 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm

Shot for a begged and borrowed $7,000, 'Primer' looks it: grainy-ish, fuzzy on details and effects, acting running the gamut from A to B, and clipped incomprehensible technobabble for dialogue.

April 13, 2013 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

ridiculous, confusing, vaguely noir-ish nonsense

August 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinema Writer
Cinema Writer

Discombobulating and mind-bending sci fi thriller. I think.

July 22, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinemania

An exceptional science fiction film...

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Oh, man, they don't make 'em like this often. A film unabashedly for the nerds in the audience (God love us), this is the type of film you could inflict upon your enemies, watching them squirm as they stare at the screen.

June 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Scouts
Film Scouts

Shane Carruth's ultra-low budget, 78-minute sci-fi film could almost be a 'B' movie from the past if not for its icy intelligence.

May 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Shane Carruth's Primer is a science fiction movie like no other, pushing its experimental tendencies as far as they can go without betraying the genre

August 30, 2005 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Confident and well-woven.

August 25, 2005 Full Review Source: FilmFocus

One of the most original and intriguing film debuts of the last few years.

August 20, 2005 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

Not recommended for entry-level time-travel theorists, but experienced 'chrononauts' will meet themselves scratching their heads in amused puzzlement as they emerge from an earlier screening.

August 19, 2005 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

One of the most wilfully obscure sci-fi movies ever made, Primer will either blow your mind or drive you out of it.

August 9, 2005 Full Review Source:

If he could've made some sense of it in the end, Carruth'd have a masterpiece on his hands.

June 28, 2005 Full Review Source: Shadows on the Wall
Shadows on the Wall

Even at a short 77 minutes, Primer is bloated, draggy, cumbersome, confusing, and almost entirely unengaging

June 20, 2005 Full Review Source:

Una joya de ritmo y de temática.

June 13, 2005 Full Review Source: Cinenganos

I didn't understand Primer; worse yet, I didn't care.

June 1, 2005 | Comments (4)

Primer est un film difficile à détester, mais encore plus difficile à pleinement apprécier.

May 25, 2005

Audience Reviews for Primer

I am so confused...
January 9, 2014

Super Reviewer

Paradoxes are fun
October 15, 2013
Spencer Macklin

Super Reviewer

Two garage scientists happen upon inventing a time machine.
I had to watch this film twice in order to understand it. I almost never watch films twice. My understanding of the plot and what writer/director/editor/composer/star Shane Carruth was doing got turned into scrabbled eggs about forty-five minutes into the film. A film that assumes the intelligence and perspicacity of its audience, Primer is a complex, cerebral, and thoroughly engrossing film that does more with time travel than almost any big-budget Hollywood video game cum film.
What's special about Primer is that Carruth not only crafts a mind-fuck of a story, but he also gives us a chance to contemplate the characters' moral and ethical stances. These characters are human beings with all the associated desires and contradictions. Further complexity is borne out of the fact that these are also intelligent human beings, and thus we don't spend the film telling them not to walk down the stairs.
Overall, as feature film debuts go, Shane Carruth's Primer is one of the best in recent memory.
June 21, 2013
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

    1. Aaron: What's worse: thinking you're paranoid or knowing you should be?
    – Submitted by Chris R (21 months ago)
    1. Abe: Aaron, I can imagine no way in which this thing could be considered anywhere remotely close to safe. All I know is I spent six hours in there and I'm still alive... You still want to do it?
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Aaron: Man, are you hungry? I haven't eaten since later this afternoon.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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