EVERY TIME I DIE (2019)
Directed by Robi Michael
Sam, a paramedic who’s been having an affair with his best friend Jay’s sister-in-law, Mia, is heartbroken when her husband Tyler returns home from military and she ceases their affair. When Jay invites Sam for a birthday weekend away with his wife Poppy, Mia and Tyler, Sam begrudgingly accepts but struggles to keep his feelings for Mia to himself. The weekend begins to a take a worrying turn when he accidentally divulges some personal secrets to the group and goes missing but is unable to remember doing so due to blacking out; something he’s been experiencing more and more frequently. With each blackout, he appears to lose time and memories and often finds himself in situations and places that he cannot explain. It’s during one of these blackouts that he gets into a scuffle with Tyler who appears to have discovered his affair with Mia with the fight ending badly for one of them. However, it seems that life hasn’t quite done with Sam…
EVERY TIME I DIE is a different species of thriller, dealing with human drama of relationships, love, guilt and loss with a touch of sci-fi for good measure. The nearest thing I can liken it to is Butterfly Effect by way of body swapping, which, when combined together make for an enthralling feature length film.
The film starts off innocently enough, or not, with POV shots of Sam waking up next to Mia before this beautiful life he’s made for himself cuts to black as Sam’s world begins to fracture around him. The loss of Mia as she returns to her husband Tyler coincides with the loss of his current memories and the return of old ones from his childhood that seem to continuously follow him around. Plagued by a tragic event in his childhood that resulted in the death of his younger sister, Sam is a broken individual. Just as he seems to mend himself through his love for Mia, he’s rejected and thus his world seems to collapse before him as he digs an even deeper hole through the depression he experiences.
There’s plenty of fresh ideas here which work to the advantage of EVERY TIME I DIE. One such scene feels like Groundhog Day but the situation is flipped on its head and sets off a chain of events which leaves the viewer wondering where it’ll eventually finish up and how certain characters will react. The film is exceptionally well paced featuring some thrilling action sequences sprinkled with troublesome conflict. Even in its quieter moments, the film manages to take hold and shine a new perspective on the situation at hand as the image of Sam is constantly reinvented as it takes a further look at who he is.
I found the film a riveting watch and quite emotional in many ways with each of the cast members effectively portraying their respective characters with conviction. The tight knit cast and choice of locations give the film an intimate feel, as though we are really seeing it from Sam’s point of view and getting a deeper understanding of what is going on in his brain.
Probably one of the more laid-back films screened at Grimmfest 2019, EVERY TIME I DIE still features a bit of blood and brutality although this is not the focus point at all. In fact, I think most of it appears off-camera which works brilliantly because the way that this movie has been filmed doesn’t warrant the display and many of the first-person shots actually allow you to experience a beating rather than witness it as a third party. It’s kind of refreshing in a way and leaves you on the edge of your seat wondering what’s going to happen next.
Complimented by sci-fi, horror and thriller elements, EVERY TIME I DIE is a beautifully-shot slice of cinematic storytelling that isn’t afraid to take the viewer on a spiritual journey.