Ever feel like you’ve been here before? This week we celebrate that spooky feeling with some of the best horror movies to take advantage of time loop nuttiness.
5. Haunter (2013)
Nicolas Vincenzo (Cube) starts off with the standard Groundhog Day premise—surly teen Lisa (Abigail Breslin) wakes up to the walkie talkie sound of her brother playing hidden treasure with an imaginary friend. It’s not Sonny & Cher, but it’s not that far off.
But Vincenzo (working from Brian King’s screenplay) starts bending the time loop structure, blending it with a more recognizable horror trope and subverting expectations. Breslin delivers a solid performance, and Pontypool’s Stephan McHattie’s outstanding as the devilish Pale Man. Plus, excellent support work from Siouxsie Sioux’s big face on Lisa’s tee shirt!
The film does kind of collapse on itself by the third act as it gets all Frequency (or Lake House or Don’t Let Go) on us, but for a good chunk of time Haunter delivers.
4. Happy Death Day (2017)
Tree (Jessica Rothe) wakes up on her birthday in some rando’s dorm room with no memory of the night before, a raging hangover and an attitude. She’s murdered that night by a knife-wielding marauder in a plastic baby mask, only to wake up back in that same dorm room under that same They Live poster.
It doesn’t take too many déjà vu mornings before Tree decides there is a mystery to solve here and just like that, we’re off in Phil Connors territory: reliving the same day again and again gives you the chance to become a better person, right?
Director Christopher Landon (Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse) wisely mines Scott Lobdell’s screenplay for laughs. Rothe boasts strong comic timing and a gift for physical comedy, a skill that transitions nicely to the demands of being repeatedly victimized by a slasher.
3. The Endless (2017)
There is something very clever about the way Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead’s movies sneak up on you. Always creepy, still they defy genre expectations even as they play with them.
Camp Arcadia offers the rustic backdrop for their latest, The Endless. A clever bit of SciFi misdirection, the film follows two brothers as they return to the cult they’d escaped a decade earlier.
It is this story and the pair’s storytelling skill that continues to impress. Their looping timelines provide fertile ground for clever turns that fans of the filmmakers will find delightful, but the uninitiated will appreciate as well.
2. Timecrimes (2007)
This one is nutty, and absolutely required viewing for anyone with an interest in space/time continuum conundrums.
Writer/director/co-star Nacho Vigalondo (Colossal) mocks our desire for control and our fear of the doppelganger with a very quick and dirty trip through time. So much can go wrong when you travel just one hour backward. The less you know going in, the better.
An always clever experiment in science fiction, horror and irony, Timecrimes is a spare, unique and wild ride.
1. Resolution (2012)
Not exactly a traditional time loop horror, Resolution plays with the concept of time in ways that are baffling and eerie.
Michael (Chris Cilella) is lured to a remote cabin, hoping to save his friend Chris (Vinny Curan) from himself. Chris will detox whether he wants to or not, then Michael will wash his hands of this situation and start again with his wife and unborn baby.
But Michael is in for more than he bargained, and not only because Chris has no interest in detoxing. Directors Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson (working from Benson’s screenplay) begin with a fascinating and bizarre group of characters and a solid story, layering on bizarre notions of time, horror and storytelling in ways that are simultaneously familiar and wildly unique. The result is funny, tense, and terrifying.