It takes real guts to borrow the precise concept from Groundhog Day, and even more to not acknowledge the film's influence at all. And even though Repeaters does much less with the genius "repeating a day" gimmick than Harold Ramis and Bill Murray, it's an earnest and ridiculous thriller about drug addicts that's perversely fun to watch as well. It masquerades at first as a story about redemption and quite literally making amends, but once Repeaters embraces its trashy action and violence, it's an oddly compelling and energetic adventure.
Be warned-- I may have only enjoyed this so much because it came in the middle of a film festival, and watching a movie with zero subtext and limited narrative logic was an odd pleasure. But Carl Bessai's film, still looking for distribution, really does have a shaggy appeal. Kyle (Dustin Milligan), Sonia (Amanda Crew) and Weeks (Richard de Klerk) start off as scowling participants in group therapy given permission to go out in the world and make amends with their suffering family members. When they wake up the next day only to learn they've mysteriously repeated the previous one, the three instantly band together to participate in some basic juvenile delinquency that escalates to going back to drugs and even Sonia's accidental death.
The next morning, though, she's good as new, and though Sonia and Kyle accept this odd turn of events as an opportunity to truly set their lives straight, Weeks goes utterly off the deep end. Turning on a dime from angsty guy to full-on psychopath, Weeks never really makes a convincing villain for Sonia and Kyle to fight against, and their attempts to outsmart him are laughably inept nearly every time. But the action and violence scenes are filmed well against the gloomy Vancouver landscape, and de Klerk brings an unfiltered rage to Weeks that, while not well grounded by Arne Olsen's often preposterous script, is fascinating to watch. Crew and Milligan are a little more dull as the earnest good guys, and their inevitable romance feels more like clockwork than actual passion, but hey, they sure are pretty to look at.
By the time the movie reaches its violent climax it's impossible to take it too seriously, but Repeaters never crosses that line over into absurd, and remains completely trashy fun if only for being so committed to its premise and thin characters. It's hard to imagine much of a theatrical future for the film, but Repeaters is exactly the kind of movie you want to catch on cable on a rainy Saturday; it sucks you in before you know it, and has just enough unexpected originality to keep you from feeling bad about enjoying it so much.
More Cinema Blend coverage from the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival right here.
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