‘Relax, I’m From The Future’ starts out like a feel good comedy, with time travel thrown in for good measure, but soon reveals itself to have a much deeper message of belonging, found family, and the fact that we are all capable of making a difference in the world – the future is not set in stone.
The following contains spoilers.
Written and directed by Luke Higginson, ‘Relax. I’m From The Future’ started life in 2013 as a short before being expanded into its current full-length feature. Casper (played by Our Flag Means Death’s Rhys Darby), a time traveller, arrives in present day Toronto where he befriends Holly (Canadian actress Gabrielle Graham), a queer black woman with whom he shares his knowledge of the future, in order to make some fast money. This sends the pair on a trajectory neither could have anticipated – which is interesting, given Casper is literally, as the title says, from the future.
Casper’s mission is to visit Percy Sullivan, played by Julian Ritchings, who has by Casper’s time become a much revered artist – albeit posthumously. His arrival has been timed to coincide with Percy’s descent into his own personal hell, making Casper’s presence much darker, and somewhat more sinister than his upbeat delivery initially indicates.
Very early on in the piece, Casper actually reveals to Holly a clue about the state of the world to come, and it’s something that the viewer might only pick up on after a second or subsequent viewing; Percy’s work is very popular with nihilists. This ties in with Holly’s own view of herself, that nothing she does makes any difference to the world. Her housemate Alana (Louise Zhu) is involved in activism, and Holly herself has previously been involved, but can no longer see the point.
Casper’s preparations for his trip included bringing information to allow him to live comfortably for the next 20 years – winning lottery numbers, sports stats – and these he freely shares these with Holly, on the proviso that she doesn’t do anything to draw attention to herself with her winnings. Sure, he shouldn’t officially share the info, but then again, as we find out, he shouldn’t officially be there anyway, but Casper, like Holly, doesn’t think he makes any difference to the world. As he explains, time is a “mushy blob of reality”, so while little differences can happen, the mushy blob “just kind of heals over the changes”, and time continues as before. Only the major events are unchangeable: life, death, cultural shifts, political stuff. The little changes of little people don’t matter. They just congeal, and heal over.
Naturally, things aren’t quite so cut and dried as Casper claims, and indeed, his comment about major events being unchangeable is another hint of things to come. Besides being a fan of Percy’s art, Casper also enjoys collecting, and soon amasses a considerable array of collectibles, with the help of Chuck (played by Zachary Bennett, who performed the role of Casper in the original short). But Casper’s very presence throws a spanner in a major event of Percy’s life, and has immense consequences.
We’re soon introduced to Doris (Janine Theriault), a woman from Casper’s time, who greets fellow time travellers with the question, “Stasis or static”: disastrous consequences await those who can’t provide the correct response. It’s revealed that in 50 or so years a great cataclysmic event, “the convergence”, occurs, eliminating most of the world’s population. Doris is in the past to make sure that “the terrorists”, that is, those people who might want to warn us of the path of destruction that lays ahead, don’t find their way back. The leaders of the world in the future, the rich people, the elite, are free to return and live out their days in the past, but those they deem terrorists are destroyed on arrival. Casper, who we find out, is not there on an official basis, manages to evade Doris for a while (in a bumbling fashion that has almost become Rhys Darby’s signature style), and thus positions himself to be enemy number 1 in Doris’s book, and she doesn’t quite know how to deal with him.
With a few lumps and bumps along the way, including a great nod to the Back To the Future franchise, we find out that Casper has no family in the future, isn’t that good at making social connections, and in so many ways, is much more at home in his new life in the past. His friendship with Holly however gives both of them a reason to live, a family to fall back on, and both of them discover that they can make a difference, despite being told that their lives have no weight in the world.
‘Relax, I’m From The Future’ is out now and is available worldwide to rent and purchase online from AppleTV, YouTube, and Google Play.