One of the common symptoms of grief is struggling with what could’ve been done to prevent such loss. People dealing with loss often engage in merciless bouts of self-flagellation, berating themselves for not doing more, or for not making the right choice. Even in events not involving death, such as a relationship dissolving, we can drive ourselves mad with “would’ves” and “ should’ves”. Jared Moshe’s sci fi drama Aporia is an examination on the lengths people go will go to fix a situation they see as broken, to right a wrong. And more importantly, it is an examination of the consequences of those choices, as well as the concept of grief, loss, and acceptance.

            Aporia centers on Sophie (played fantastically by the great Judy Greer), a relatively recent widow and now single mother still reeling from the death of her husband Mal (another incredible performance, this time by Edi Gathegi), a victim of a drunk driver. In addition to her own struggle to come to terms with Mal’s passing, she must be there for her pre-teen daughter Riley, who understandably is also not handling things well. And to throw even more salt in the wound, the man responsible for Mal’s death is seemingly facing zero consequences. All of this has Sophie desperate for some kind of help. So, when Mal’s close friend Jabir, a former physicist, reveals to Sophie he may have a way to make it so Mal’s death never happens, she takes it. And thus, the narrative of Aporia begins to unspool.

            One of the fascinating aspects of Aporia is that despite its very off the wall premise (think Pet Semetary via The Terminator) it still feels extremely grounded and relatable. With all the heady concepts flying around, Greer and Gathegi do an incredible job of maintaining an extremely believable emotional core. When Sophie first sees Mal after he doesn’t die, her expression is a perfect blend of disbelief and joy with just a touch of horror. Greer flawlessly executes the reaction to an utterly impossible situation, as does Gathegi moments later when he is informed that, to Sophie, he has been dead for the last eight months. It is an absurd and unbelievable situation that is made real by the performances of these actors. Similarly, when Jabir is explaining his motivations for creating the machine responsible for changing their timeline, he is entirely relatable. Somehow you find yourself in the shoes of a man who decided to build a quasi-time machine to reverse the course of events leading to his family’s death. Payman Maadi’s emotional expression is somehow exactly what you’d expect from a man in those circumstances.

            What sets this film apart from other time travel related films is the increasingly heavy ways that the time stream being changed manifests itself, and how these changes kind of build upon one another until it’s all too much to bear. It’s like The Butterfly Effect but far more nuanced and effective. I say this without a trace of hyperbole: there is a scene in this film that I think is the most emotionally devastating example of history being altered I have ever seen. It is simple but hits like a twenty-ton hammer straight to the soft stuff. It’s like having an incredibly realistic dream where you have everything you want and nothing sucks and then waking up to the clamoring of your alarm and realizing that it was just a dream, and then multiply that shit feeling by a thousand. It needs to be seen and experienced and rewatched and mulled over because it’s just that good of a concept. There’s nothing like it anywhere else in the mishmash of time travel films/shows.

            There’s a moment in  Pet Semetary I find to be one of the most tragic scenes in Stephen King’s entire catalog. Immediately after euthanizing his reanimated son, Louis Creed takes his wife’s body up to the Micmac burial ground to inter her so she will come back. He is fully aware of the consequences of his actions; his reanimated son Gage had just murdered his wife and best friend. But he is convinced that this time he’ll get it right. This time will undo the damage. As Aporia progresses, the characters experience a similar brand of insanity. They keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. As the changes in the timeline become more and more unfamiliar and drastic, they turn to the only recourse they have: roll the dice again and maybe it’ll work out this time. It’s an observation on just how far people will go to try and defy an unjust set of results instead of just accepting that terrible things will happen. Moshe mines that defiance with incredible results and gives us a compelling story about the nature of grief and the tenacity of love and in the end reminds us that sometimes we must accept what life has given us and move on instead of fruitlessly trying to change what cannot be changed.