Carl Bessai breaks out of his romantic/comedy drama mould and delivers something more choppy, aggressive and exhilirating.
Mel Gibson gets electrocuted and can hear women’s thoughts; Uncle Fester gets an electrical shock and regains his memory; and a dead dog is reborn as Frankenweenie after being struck by lightening. These kids? They are forced to repeatedly relive the same day as the next refuses to dawn.
Meet the ‘repeaters’.
Kyle (Dustin Milligan), Sonia (Amanda Crew) and Michael (Richard De Klerk) are three twenty-something friends residing in a young offenders rehab rehabilitation, each struggling to suppress their angst over their own problems and troubled history. When the delinquents get an electrical shock during a storm and pass out, they awake the next morning to discover that they are reliving the preceding day. The only ones in the institution that are affected, the trio live the same day over and over again. With the event of the previous day forgotten, their slate is constantly wiped clean and each renewed day becomes more reckless as their lives spiral into a world of violence and crime.
Entering familiar Groundhog Day territory always allows room for a crafty narrative and multiple layers of complexity. Repeaters doesn’t capitalize on this opportunity but lets the supernatural reasoning form a loose, absurd framework. It doesn’t offer any further insights and it’s more reminiscent with the Freaky Friday ‘good-deed-ends-all’ nature.
Having explored animal impulses in her 2007 TV movie Hybrid, screenwriter Arne Olsen further examines behavioural instincts in a time capsule where justice is a temporal subsistence and the wrongdoers cannot be held accountable for their actions for more than a few hours. What dawns as a frivolous lash-out at society through giddy, youthful expression and a trivial abuse of power- robbing liquor stores and firing guns at lined-up coke cans- escalates into something far more menacing. Michael sees the prospects of the ‘gift’ and takes advantage of it, defying the group’s limit of petty crime and irrational, nonchalant fun.
De Klerk (who starred in director Carl Bessai’s Cole) embodies the rash, out of control villain whose energetic adventure and psychopathic impulses are by far the narrative’s most intense element. Milligan and Crew’s characters don’t have a great deal to do, helplessly trying to make amends with the friend that has turned on them and entering into a cringy romance which is neither intriguing nor worth the screen time. They carry the film along with ease but fail to be as interesting as their co-star.
A drug issue surfaces in its early stages and initiates an alluring theme of redemption. But this doesn’t really cultivate and becomes overshadowed by an emphasis on moral decision making. By juggling lots of ideas that are never fully seen through, we are left confused and unsure who and what to root for. Bessai raises too many philosophical questions about morality to tackle and doesn’t allow room for a deserved perception or exploration.
Nevertheless, Repeaters is fast-paced and aggressive in its more entertaining moments, and its trashy violence and string of disordered scenarios is surprisingly enjoyable to watch for the most part.
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