'Time Loop Movies'
There is something satisfying about the idea of starting over. In a ‘Time Loop’ movie, not only do you get to have multiple chances to change things in your favour, you have the unique experience of being the only person who knows what is going to happen, technically the powers of a God. Of course, the moral of these stories tends to be, to become a better person, help others and improve society. The irony tends to be; you are given a special power that could enhance your life, yet you must use it in an altruistic way. 1993’s Ground Hog Day is the catalyst for and the natural parent for all of this. At the time, it was a bold new comedy formula with a tricky task on its hands, how do you make a film about the same day repeating over-and-over-again, that isn’t boring? Director Harold Ramis’s trump card was Bill Murray, in his prime here, being charming and slimy at the same time, with wonderful injections of cynical humour. Once Phil Connors gets stuck in his time loop on the eponymous day, we are treated to all the scenes that will become integral in the genre, trying to kill yourself, using the power to attract the opposite sex, then eventually using it for good.
For once Hollywood has been slightly restrained with ‘Time Loop movies’ and didn’t immediately throw every concept they could think of at the screen, hence we were spared a direct to video Groundhog Day 2 in the time-honoured tradition of Disney – thank God! But of course, there is a splattering of this concept in various genres, probably the biggest in terms of budget and prestige is Edge of Tomorrow (2014), Starring Mr Tom Cruise himself. Based on the novella All you need is Kill, a book that is basically written as a movie script and features a young recruit in a future war, battling nasty reptilian aliens, repeating the same day after he is killed at war. Naturally they had to change the character due to Cruise being nearly 50 at the time, so he is now a military spokesman and coward who is forced into the infantry, complete with exoskeleton and must learn to become a top soldier, enlisting the help of Emily Blunt’s female badass to survive. An interesting concept is well executed, complete with nasty deaths and a real sense of a character’s journey. It takes good ideas (time loop and alien war) and merges them quite nicely!
In the horror camp, we have 2017’s Happy Death Day, produced by medium budget horror outfit - Blumhouse, featuring a bitchy college girl, who is murdered by a masked killer, only to relive the day, trying to unmask them and consider her own attitude. It gives the audience a great twist on the idea, being intriguing and fun at the same time. It proved a hit with audiences and produced the sequel Happy Death Day to You (2019), which is best avoided!
The young adult novel Before I Fall became a film in 2017 and features a bitchy high school girl (seems to be a trend), whose group of friends are bullying the weird girl at school and end up dying in a car crash, only to relive the day. Despite being a lighter watch, it is surprisingly poignant and stays with you after the credits roll.
One to avoid
When we First Met (2018) - starring Adam DeVine of Workaholics fame, let’s him travel back to the first day he met the love of his life, whose engagement party he visits, via a magic photo booth, he then gets to replay that day, obnoxiously trying to make her fall in love with him. It is predictable, unfunny Netflix fluff, but with a time loop at its heart, it elevates it above the other rubbish it will be recommended with.