Time Trap’s Time Travel and Timeline, Explained

‘Time Trap’ is a 2017 sci-fi adventure film directed by Mark Dennis and Ben Foster. The movie revolves around a professor, Jason Hopper, who goes missing after embarking on a solo investigation regarding missing hippies from the 70s and a mythical “Fountain of Youth.” A group of kids, Taylor, Jackie, Cara, Veeves, and Furby, go on a search for Hopper and come across an unimaginable mystery of the universe that changes their lives forever. ‘Time Trap’ pitches a thrilling concept by utilizing interesting time travel ideas to put its characters in an actual ticking clock situation. With a basis in complex scientific notions of time dilation, this movie invites plenty of curiosity when it comes to the Time Cave’s mechanics and implications. If you’re interested in delving deeper into these concepts, here are the time travel and timeline in ‘Time Trap’ explained.

Time Travel in Time Trap

The center of conflict in ‘Time Trap’ lies in the fact that Taylor and his friends are losing years of Earth-time every second they spend in the Time Cave. When Hopper first encounters the cave, he notices an old-timey cowboy frozen in place halfway through the opening. Once Hopper tries to enter the cave himself, he feels an invisible wall of moisture around, and once he presses through it, time drastically changes in the world beyond the cave opening. The same happens to Jackie and the others when they climb down the cave cliffs. Moreover, after a while, the ropes they used for their harnesses detach after being severed in half.

Taylor hypothesizes the reason behind this to be the effect of friction on these ropes over a long period of time. Due to the ropes being attached above the cave’s moist separation layer, half of them are experiencing time much faster than the other. The people inside and outside of the cave follow this same logic. People that have entered the time dilation chamber of the Time Cave are experiencing time much slower than those above the surface. When put in action, technically, one could travel in time through this phenomenon. When Taylor and his friends enter the cave, they are able to travel thousands of years into the future in just a matter of minutes.

However, the cave’s time-traveling capabilities are limited to only traveling forward in time. Instead of acting like a time machine, the Time Cave acts only as a time capsule. Someone can experience the past in the form of the relics left behind in the cave, like the cavemen or the Spanish conquistadors, but they can’t go back in time themselves. The second layer of the Time Cave further doubles down on this idea. Essentially, there are two layers to the Time Cave: the outer layer and the inner layer. The inner layer is closer to the cave’s center, where a waterfall exists.

This waterfall is the fantastical “Fountain of Youth” many people have been searching for. The water from the cave possesses extraordinary healing abilities and can even bring people back from the dead. Several of the characters even use this magical water to heal themselves. Therefore, an army of Spaniards and cavemen are battling each other for control over the waterfall in the cave’s center. However, to people outside of the inner layer, it appears as if they are frozen in time because the rate of time dilation is even higher in the inner layer.

The film doesn’t necessarily provide an explanation for the weird way that time behaves inside the Time Cave. It is possible that the center of the waterfall acts as a sort of controlled black hole that causes this time-dilation effect throughout the cave. On the other more fantastical side of things, the Fountain of Youth simply expels this phenomenon as a layer of protection for its magical powers.

Time Trap Timeline

Like any time-traveling piece of media worth its salt, ‘Time Trap’ also features a convoluted timeline of events. The movie showcases elements from time periods like the prehistoric Paleoamerican era (the cavemen) to the imagined future where humanoid Earth beings are colonizing Mars. For convenience’s sake, let’s categorize ‘Time Trap’s’ timeline into three easy sections: past, present, and future.


This period of time includes everything that happens before the series of events that occur once Jason Hopper enters the Time Cave.

Because the Time Cave is a fixed singularity, people have been stumbling across it for a long time. The earliest of them were the cavemen. Several of them are present in the Time Cave, and for them, only a few hours, days at most, have passed since they entered the cave.

Next comes the Spanish conquistadors. Somewhere between the 15th and 16th centuries, a Queen’s husband gets sick, and she sends dozens of expeditions to search for a cave believed to contain a “Fountain of Youth” by the Natives. All the expedition teams come back empty-handed or dead, except for one. This group of Spaniards finds the Time Cave and travels to its center, where the waterfall lies. There they get into a battle with the cavemen. However, the increased time dilation effect freezes them in time to the point where centuries pass before many of them can even finish landing a punch upon their enemies.

Lastly, in the 1970s, when Jason’s little sister gets sick, his parents search for the same fountain of youth. The Hoppers never make it past the cave’s first layer after a group of cavemen attack them. On the other hand, Jason’s sister passes into the second layer, where she gets stuck between the Spaniards and the cavemen.


This period of time includes the series of events that occur once Jason Hopper enters the cave up to the point when Cara escapes.

Jason Hopper searches for his parents and finds his way to the Time Cave. Though he only spends a few minutes inside the cave, days pass for the outside world, and his students come looking for him. Taylor, Jackie, Veeves, and Cara enter the cave and explore its tunnels. Meanwhile, their friend Furby spends days alone in the remote forest and eventually enters the cave. Furby dies, and Cara climbs out of the cave encountering an apocalyptic world outside.

After her return, a seven-foot-tall man from the future enters the cave in search of a sample of the cave’s healing waters. The man dies, and the group uses his retractable ladder to escape the cave. After being pulled out by another being through a portal situated on the cave’s opening, Cara makes it out.


This period of time includes the movie’s epilogue, where Jason Hopper and the others have escaped the cave and entered a new human civilization.

Cara returns for her friends after her escape. Though a few days pass for her, it is only a matter of seconds for her friends inside the time dilation chamber. With the help of futuristic mechanical cables, Cara’s friends and the Hopper Family are pulled out of the cave through a portal. The portal transports them to a spaceship in space. Thousands and thousands of years have passed, and the descendants of the human species are on their way to colonizing Mars.

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