By Jacob Mello (Austin, TX, US)
The movie wasn’t a total dud, but that’s almost entirely due to how well the loop-time setup and horror movie genre complement one another. The concept was intriguing, and one I bet we’ll see resurface again, but that aside, I spent the back half waiting for this one to end.
The protagonist was so aggressively unlikable that a collective sigh of relief was let out into the audience every time the killer did its thing. Instead of building in a character arc or some sort of progression that urges you to actively route for the lead to find and foil her killer – aside from knowing that would bring the sweet mercy of the ending credits – they simply made the character an asshole beyond redemption and tossed on a post-hoc sob story of an explanation for why she was the way she was.
It had the potential to be good, if only it didn’t take itself so seriously. Instead of embracing how ridiculous the situation was and having a little fun, it tried to string everything into a sincere message that I’m not entirely convinced they weren’t just making up on the fly.
If I had to guess, the moral was something along the lines of: Even a self-centered prick can change it all around, just so long as everyone in her life has been pushed to a reasonable suspicion of having cause to kill her; she’s forced to be hunted down and murdered on a continuous loop, and she finally considers giving up sleeping with married men and/or her closest friends’ boyfriends for a semester. The message might have also been: If you find out a guy at the party whom you didn’t know until today, just simply didn’t date rape you last night – you’ve found true love. I can’t say for sure, but I’m giving myself the benefit of the doubt that I didn’t miss something subtle with this one.
Not to spoil anything for you, especially because you’ll be forced to watch these scenes at tedium, but this is the kind of movie where as soon as she decides to take her fate into her own hands and find out the identity of the killer, she does everything – mostly just giving herself makeovers to fit the plan of the day – except make even the slightest attempt to pull off the killer’s mask.
What I would have liked to have seen was some sort of detective like clue gathering where each day, win or lose, she figured out another crucial and game changing piece of the puzzle. That would have invested us in her journey and made every day matter on its own to the story. Instead the writer opted to make it a long series of episodic reruns (at one point, after returning from a long bathroom break to seemingly the same scene he’d left during, I overheard a fellow moviegoer asking his date sarcastically “what did I miss?”).
If I find out the writer got his start in film as an accountant, I’ll completely reverse my opinion of his work. Film a few two-minute scenes and make them take up the bulk of the movies running time. Brilliant. If not, however, this movie forever goes down as a movie that could have been.
For better time-loop movies: Groundhogs Day, Source Code, The Edge of Tomorrow.
For a better horror movie with the same tone: Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer.
Carter Davis: [wakes up in Carter’s bed] Oh, hey. You’re up.
Tree Gelbman: Am I in a dorm room?
Carter Davis: Yeah. I folded your pants for you.
Tree Gelbman: Great.
Danielle: You sneaky little biatch. Maybe you should switch to water next time.
Tree Gelbman: Super helpful.
Danielle: Don’t be late for your party tonight.
Tree Gelbman: Okay. Bye.
Lori: Tree, Happy Birthday.
Tree Gelbman: [to the masked figure at her birthday party] You scared me.
[Tree is then murdered by the masked figure, she wakes up again in Carter’s bed again]
Tree Gelbman: Look, I know this isn’t going to make any sense. I feel like I’m losing my mind. I’ve already lived through this day.
Tree Gelbman: Somebody is going to kill me tonight.
Carter Davis: [after getting murdered again Tree wakes up screaming] Is everything okay?
Tree Gelbman: [her cellphone rings again with ringtone, 50 Cents ‘In da Club’] Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!
[Tree throws her phone across the room in anger]
Carter Davis: Assuming that I believe any of this is even possible, the way I see it you have unlimited amount of lives, unlimited opportunities to solve your own murder.
Tree Gelbman: So I’m supposed to keep dying until I figure out who my killer is?
Carter Davis: You want to live to see tomorrow, right?
Carter Davis: Whoever’s killing you, he knows it’s your birthday.
Tree Gelbman: Pretty much the entire school does.
Gregory: [to Tree] These are signs of major trauma. You should be dead.
Tree Gelbman: You relive the same day over and over again, you kind of start to see who you really are.
Tree Gelbman: [after thinking she’s killed her murderer] I did it!
[she gets pulled over by a cop, he gets run down and we see her murderer again to kill her]
Tree Gelbman: My birthday, my rules. I’m ending this.