Repeaters Carl Bessai

Repeaters Carl Bessai
Have you ever wondered what a humourless cross between Groundhog Day and a Degrassi Junior High reunion special would be like? Me neither, but the results aren't as dryly preachy as the structure and content would suggest, but neither are they the "gritty, mind-bending thriller" involving a "time labyrinth" its tagline attempts to sell.

Kyle (Dustin Milligan, Slither, Extract), Sonia (Amanda Crew, Sex Drive) and Michael (Richard de Klerk) are rehab lunch buddies who find themselves repeating the same day over and over after failing to deal with their assorted family issues. There's absolutely no science in this fiction; they all get electrical shocks during a power outage and wake up with the clock rewound. The damaged trio notice very swiftly that something's up and director Carl Bessai employs essential shifts of perception to keep the repeats from detracting from the story's flow, though he fails to reveal any discernable insights or symbolism while doing so.

Moving first from panic and confusion to optimism at the chance to improve the supremely shitty day they all had, Kyle suggests trying to save a jumper he heard about on the news later that night. Too late, they move on to personal reconciliations, but grow quickly discouraged trying to change the patterns of perception their habits have built. By day three, the gang start to get their nihilism on, stealing booze and vandalizing their rehab supervisor's house.

Sonia's the first to voice concerns about the choices they're making, in case tomorrow actually does come. That's not deterrent enough, so the next repeat spirals even more dangerously out of control until Kyle and Sonia reach the brink of morality and Michael falls clear off the edge. We must assume that Michael was already a psychopathic seedling waiting to blossom – the reprehensible acts he commits once he's crossed the line aren't simply the actions of a morally flexible person off the tether of consequence.

By this point, Repeaters shifts to a more traditional thriller approach, but what works about it is the ability of the principle performers to convincingly convey emotional anguish and regret without going full-on after-school special. Repeaters doesn't warrant repeat viewings, but it won't make you feel like your time has been stolen either. (Alliance)