Primer (2004)



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

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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 perhaps even quadruple, the space-time continuum of anything that enters it. What at first seems like a windfall of astronomical proportions eventually proves to be much more than they bargained for, as the duo attempt to manipulate time to their financial -- and emotional -- benefit. Also starring Casey Gooden, Anand Upadhyaya, and Carrie Crawford, Primer premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the coveted Grand Jury Prize for dramatic film. ~ Matthew Tobey, Rovi
PG-13 (for brief language)
Drama , Mystery & Suspense , Science Fiction & Fantasy
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Written By:
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Casey Gooden
as Robert
Jon Cook
as Will's Cousin
Ashley Warren
as Hostess
Chip Carruth
as Thomas Granger
Jay Butler
as Metalshop Worker
John Carruth
as Man on Couch No. 1
Juan Tapia
as Man on Couch No. 2
Samantha Thomson
as Rachel Granger
David Joyner
as Rachel's Date
Keith Bradshaw
as Clean Room Technician
Jack Pyland
as Aaron's Co-Worker
Ashok Upadhyaya
as Laboratory Technician
Eric de Soualhat
as Translator
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Critic Reviews for Primer

All Critics (119) | Top Critics (31)

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

Full Review… | February 8, 2008
Denver Post
Top Critic

Scary, puzzling, and different.

Full Review… | June 4, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top 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.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

An unapologetically cerebral movie of ideas.

December 3, 2004
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | December 3, 2004
Toronto Star
Top 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
Miami Herald
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Primer

Well executed thriller, Primer is a film that manages to use a simple concept to create a picture, and it boasts a small cast as well, and an interesting story. I enjoyed the film for what it was; and felt that the filmmakers were able to make something quite interesting with the idea that they used to make the film. Primer isn't perfect, and at times it feels like it had plenty of potential to be so much more as well, and I think that if the director would have rewritten the script and changed a few things around, then maybe, the film would have really stood out. As a whole, the film is only really worth seeing once, as it doesn't necessitate multiple viewings. However, for what it is, it's a well made low budget feature that has some good performances, an interesting story and good direction to make things interesting for the viewer. Primer could have been so much more in terms of a thriller, and who knows what this film could have been if the script would have been slightly reworked. As it stands, this is a good movie, one that is unique in the way that it uses its concept, but it's far from the film that it could have been. This is worth seeing if you enjoy low budget indie picture, and for the most part, it's a skillfully crafted affair and it's entertaining, but you do end up wanting more out of the film, especially due to its short run time. Genre fans might enjoy this one, but for anyone else, you'll surely want more out of the film.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer


I am so confused...

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer


Paradoxes are fun

Spencer Macklin
Spencer Macklin

Super Reviewer

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