How long would it take you to notice you were repeating the previous day? Unless something pretty out of the ordinary happened to me, I think I could probably make it through a day without realising it was yesterday again. Breakfast, walk the dog, work, a few downloaded TV shows, bed. Okay, my life’s not that dull normally, but pick a bad day and it could happen.
Luckily, the stars of “Repeaters” are a bit smarter than me. Kyle, Sonia and Michael are three recovering drug addicts living in a rehab centre, and we get to see how each of them uses a day pass. Their lives are awful, either as a result of what they did before they went in there, or the thing that caused them to be in there in the first place. Because their lives are so absolutely routine – there’s a not-terribly-subtle metaphor in there somewhere – they pick up on the tiny things and almost immediately start having fun with their new-found gift, in the way that people with a decent knowledge of pop culture would do. In other words, they start breaking the law remarkably quickly, and the first fracture in their happy lives comes when they go to their old drug dealer and Kyle sees his little sister getting high.
Michael is obviously going down a darker path, so at this point I was thinking “well, we’ve got about ten minutes to go, with a few apologies to come and lessons to be learned”. When I checked the time and realised we weren’t even at the halfway point yet, I was impressed at what the film had managed to pack into those 45 minutes without it feeling rushed at all.
With their fractured lives, things go further downhill with every attempt to do good things leading to misery of one sort or another. Michael realises smoking meth and murdering people is okay, in some way, if you wake up in the morning un-addicted again and the murder victims happily walking around; Kyle tries every way he can imagine to keep his sister from the life he had; and Sonia has revelations about her father.
I found this film fascinating, despite a few flaws. Plot threads get dropped and the resolution to the Sonia’s father thread feels weird, like she was being forced to read the lines by some new religious cult she’d just joined. Also, there’s a really fine line in the world of indie drama between playing an emotionally numb character and just not being very good at acting, and I’m not sure that Kyle stays on the right side of that line often enough. Or maybe it’s my mind being numbed by months of SyFy Channel original movies.
I am looking forward to seeing what the filmmaker and writer do in the future. This is a dark and complex film which has left me thinking about it a lot longer than I expected, with a tiny post-film coda that adds an extra layer to discussions of it (and more importantly, doesn’t just feel like a clever little bit tagged on for no reason). Okay, there are flaws, but give me something that tries and occasionally fails over something that never tries, any day.
Rating: thumbs up