We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
Chaos theory teaches us that small events can have enormous consequences. An opening title informs us that butterfly flapping its wings in Asia could result in a hurricane halfway around the world. Yes, although given the number of butterflies and the determination with which they flap their little wings, isn't it extraordinary how rarely that happens? "The Butterfly Effect" applies this theory to the lives of four children whose early lives are marred by tragedy. When one of them finds that he can go back in time and make changes, he tries to improve the present by altering the past.
The characters as young adults are played by Ashton Kutcher, as Evan, a college psych major; Amy Smart and William Lee Scott as Kayleigh and Tommy, a brother and sister with a pedophile father; and Elden Henson as Lenny, their friend. The story opens in childhood, with little Evan seriously weird. His drawings at kindergarten are sick and twisted (and also, although nobody ever mentions it, improbably good for a child). He has blackouts, grabs kitchen knives, frightens his mother (Melora Walters), becomes a suitable case for treatment.
A shrink suggests that he keep a daily journal. This he does, although apparently neither the shrink nor the mother ever read it, or their attention might have been snagged by entries about how Mr. Miller (Eric Stoltz), father of Kayleigh and Tommy, forced them all to act in kiddie porn movies. Evan hangs onto the journals, and one day while reading an old one at school he's jerked back into the past and experiences a previously buried memory.
One thing he'd always done, after moving from the old neighborhood, was to promise Kayleigh "I'll come back for you." (This promise is made with handwriting as precocious as his drawing skills.) The flashbacks give him a chance to do that, and eventually he figures out that by reading a journal entry, he can return to that page in his life and relive it. The only problem is, he then returns to a present that is different than the one he departed from -- because his actions have changed everything that happened since.