“What would you do?”
Director: Carl Bessai
Cast: Dustin Milligan, Amanda Crew, Richard de Klerk
Synopsis: A gritty mind-bending thriller about three twenty-somethings who find themselves in an impossible time labyrinth, where each day they awaken to the same terrifying day as the preceding one.
Repeaters is essentially a variation on the theme explored by Harold Ramis’s Groundhog Day (1993), although this time the tone is considerably darker and more edgy and makes an admirable attempt to have the plight of its protagonists – three young adults in rehab – work as a metaphor for the repetitive nature of addiction. Once that metaphor’s established, though, director Carl Bressai fails to develop the idea any further and the film settles into a fairly predictable good guy-bad guy scenario.
Dustin Milligan, Amanda Crew and Richard de Klerk play Kyle, Sonia and Michael, a trio of recovering addicts who each undergoes a traumatic first day-release during which they are encouraged to try and build bridges with their estranged families. That night, each is electrocuted during a storm, and subsequently discover they are reliving the same day over and over.
Where Bill Murray’s predicament in Groundhog Day was mined for laughs, Repeaters explores the more serious aspects while following essentially the same voyage of discovery. Initially, our heroes revel in the freedom to go on binges and commit petty crimes without suffering any consequences. But while Kyle and Sonia realise that each episode does have consequences in as much as they are a different person as a result of their experiences, Michael begins to embrace the anarchic power over all who cross his path.
Given that all three of our heroes suffer an electric shock, there’s a possibility that they have woken up in purgatory, doomed to remain there until they put right the mistakes they made while on earth. Bressai and writer Arne Olsen are a little stingy when it comes to explanations to be honest, and not only on the big points; exactly why, for example, is Michael’s old man so angry with him? And why does Kyle’s sister refuse point blank to have anything to do with him, even as she takes her first steps on the path he once trod? Bressai at least manages to hold our interest – even though that ’edgy’ hand-held camera technique is getting awfully old these days – but the whole thing is nearly derailed by a ‘wtf’ twist that, if not entirely unconnected with what’s gone before, is a little unnecessary.