Every Time I Die, co-written and directed by Robi Michael, is a new thriller that is the latest in the trend to try to capitalize on the reincarnation trope. However, this film doesn’t go the Groundhog Day route, instead taking a unique (if not always more effective) twist.
The movie is about a young man who is murdered, causing his consciousness to transfer between his friends in an attempt to protect them from his killer. Although this admittedly sounds cheesy, and the film is just as cheesy in execution as it sounds on paper, there are some very interesting ideas and questions posed by the movie.
One of the more admirable things about this film is that it never tries to explain what causes what is happening. Any explanation the filmmakers could have given likely would have been implausible and forced even more suspension of disbelief. Leaving things unexplained allows the audience to focus on the characters and the themes explored by the movie.
The film does take a bit longer than it probably should to get moving, but once the actual conflict begins around thirty minutes in, the movie becomes thoroughly entertaining for the next hour. Unlike some other movies that have tried to pull off changing perspectives, this film works pretty well because it keeps those transitions to a minimum.
However, the area in which this movie begins to falter is its character development. Although the protagonist is sympathetic for obvious reasons, the film doesn’t give him much of a personality. The supporting characters don’t have any more depth than the protagonist either. As a result of this, it’s somewhat difficult to form the intended emotional connection with the movie, and you are instead left hoping for more.
The delivery of the actors also does no favors to the film’s emotion. All of the actors give performances that are very flat and speak in a monotonous way. In fact, the delivery is so monotonous that it almost feels like a conscious decision from the filmmakers. Perhaps the movie was meant to feel this cold and emotionless. Regardless, it is pretty off-putting.
On a technical level, the film is definitely ambitious, but the low-budget and independent nature of the movie is ultimately constraining. There is some use of CGI and unusual cinematography, for example, that doesn’t really add anything to the film because it ends up feeling so over-the-top and cheesy. Had the movie went simpler and not tried so hard, it would have worked better as a whole.
Every Time I Die has an interesting concept and interesting ideas, but it is flawed in execution. Although it is mostly entertaining, you can’t help but feel like this could (and should) have been something more.
Every Time I Die hits theaters and VOD on August 9.