EVERY TIME I DIE / CERT: UNRATED / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: ROBI MICHAEL / STARRING: MARC MENCHACA, TYLER DASH WHITE, SARA HARMAN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
It's always refreshing to experience someone’s vision play out successfully on screen. It feels like director, writer and producer Robi Michael really wants to guide you on a specific journey in Every Time I Die and, even though it may not reach the heights of the films that have influenced it, it is certainly an enjoyable and worthy experience.
We start with a fine POV shot, and are introduced to Sam (Drew Fonteiro), who has been sleeping with married woman and one half of identical sisters; Mia (played by real life identical twin Michelle Macedo). Sam is suffering blackouts and is drawn to old photographs of his dead sister; it is here we see the films first major influence, 2000’s Memento – Sam has even written on the back of one of his photos “remember Sara,” highly reminiscent of Guy Pearce in Christopher Nolan’s mind-aching thriller. Sam is invited to a lake house retreat with his best mate and fellow paramedic Jay (Marc Menchaca), the twins and Mia’s husband Tyler, perfectly cast in the form of Taylor Dash White. Sam is acting strangely, but things really take a supernatural turn when Sam is murdered by the vengeful Tyler and starts to inhabit the bodies of everyone around him. This feels like a unique take on body possession, with only Denzel Washington’s 1998 movie Fallen, about a serial killer taking over people’s bodies, springing to mind.
The film is at its best when it is exploring Sam’s past and asking the audience what is real and what isn’t, with another Nolan film – 2010's Inception – also an influence. These pieces work due to the creative visuals and skill of Michael as a director, with cuts between the past and the present feeling seamless. The central idea doesn’t quite ignite, unfortunately – there are too many questions, such as what happens to the consciousness of the bodies Sam inhabits, and can anyone else do this? We don’t have time to explore this, and some ideas – like Jay having mental issues in the past – feel like red herrings for the sake of it.
Every Time I Die is not concerned with clear-cut answers, and it feels deliberately ambiguous. It exists in a dreamlike state in which an interesting narrative is blended with a bitter sweetness, and will appeal to those who have questioned if they are still dreaming. For a feature film debut, it is incredibly well-handled with good performances and a style that will stay with you for a while. Robi Michael is one to watch. Will there be aspiring filmmakers in the future who will endeavour to create fiction like the Israeli born director? Only time will tell, but he has proven dreams can come true!