Repeaters is essentially a variant on Groundhog Day (1993), which had Bill Murray inexplicably forced to repeat the same day over and over. There were a number of other films that came out repeating Groundhog Days basic timeloop scenario with the likes of 12:01 (1993), Retroactive (1997), Source Code (2011) and Edge of Tomorrow (2014), ARQ (2016), Before I Fall (2017), Happy Death Day (2017) and Naked (2017), even an entire tv series Day Break (2006-7). Repeaters, which has a script from Arne Olsen, the author of Red Scorpion (1989), Power Rangers: The Movie (1995), All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 (1996) and Hybrid (2007), goes through all the basics of the Groundhog Day scenario the scenes with the protagonists going wild knowing they will face no consequences, their dying yet being resurrected the next day, their frustration at making breakthroughs with people and then having to start from scratch the next day and so on.
On the other hand, Groundhog Day was a romantic comedy whereas Repeaters takes the scenario into much darker soul-scouring places. Carl Bessai pushes scenes with far more of a pleasingly irresponsible and anarchic edge than Groundhog Days light romantic comedy approach ever did scenes of the guys conducting armed robbery, stealing cars, vandalizing houses, forcing drug dealers to eat cowshit at gunpoint and the likes. Moreover, Repeaters gives us not one but three people caught up in the timeloop and throws some novelty into the scenario by creating a hero and a villain and making part of the film be a chase as the two try to eliminate and outsmart each other. Like Groundhog Day, no explanation is offered for what caused the timeloop in the first place it just ends when the forces that be deem that the good guys have earned their release.
There is a theme throughout Repeaters of redemption, reconciliation and earning the forgiveness of those we have harmed. Carl Bessai, Arne Olsen and the actors drive these points home in ways that are strong and heartfelt. Essentially, the film says that life is filled with choices and is a process of either triumphing over these and owning ones mistakes or surrendering to the dark side. This is something that could be taken from the textbook of the recovery process it seems certain that someone involved in the film has gone through rehab before. Indeed, it is these scenes that make up the emotional backbone of the film more so than the overly familiar ones about the characters adjusting to the timeloop. The only minor complaint here might be that we never fully understand why Richard de Klerks character goes off the rails he does, it feels, more to provide a counterpoint to Dustin Milligans eventual triumph over his odds than through any motivated reason.
Carl Bessai also shoots the film himself, achieving some frequently beautiful shots. The only complaint is his use of tedious blurred shakycam shots during the action scenes.
(Screening at the Vancouver International Film Festival)