Move over Punxsutawney Phil, it's time for a tween takeover of the time loop genre in Before I Fall.
One of the 'popular girls' in school, Sam is cruising through life in the Pacific North West surrounded by her giggly gaggle of gal pals, bitchy ring leader and Regina George wannabe Lindsay Edgecomb (Halston Sage) and her two orbiting bodies Elody (Medalion Rahimi) and Ally (Cynthy Wu), as well as her vacant chunk of hunk for a boyfriend Rob (Kian Lawley). They strut around school like they own the place and shun hangers-on who show all the signs of actual heartfelt affection, such as hopeless not-so secret admirer Kent (Logan Miller). They even have an inexplicable vendetta against resident weirdo Juliet (Elena Kampouris), who they taunt and berate at every opportunity.
However, this status quo is rudely interrupted by a drunken midnight car crash that sends the four girls headlong into a ditch, killing them all. Sam jolts awake at what she believes is the next day, but it actually turns out she is now stuck on that fateful day forever more, forced to relive each minute detail over and over until she rectifies her wrongs and learns A Lesson™.
You can probably gather from my healthy dose of sarcasm in the above paragraph that Before I Fall isn't exactly the most adventurous or daring teen film to grace our screens in the last few years; if you sit back and imagine how you would think this movie would play out, I can guarantee it's exactly like that. The screenplay doesn't really throw you any curveballs; it could even be condensed into a quick 45-minute episode of some boppy teen TV procedural, like Buffy, Supernatural or Charmed.
And yet there is enough on offer here to entertain. The characters are basic bitches but easy enough to like or at least tolerate. The dialogue veers between lightly humourous and 'white female teen speak as written by a 45-year-old' with healthy helpings of 'yaaas', 'bae', 'woke' and the like. If you can't get onboard with a film that includes characters learning about tragic news over Instagram, WhatsApp or Snapchat, this film might prove gently irksome.
Plus, Before I Fall is practically coated head-to-toe in lashings of twee indie pop; the soundtrack is laced with the likes of Grimes, LOLAWOLF and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
For all my talk of a predictable plot, I will say this; the end did throw me for a loop (pun absolutely intended). I can't settle on whether it's bad or brilliant, but at least it goes out on a limb and commits an idea and stick with it. The messaging is powerful and distilled into its purest form, hopefully making for a potent collection of ideas that can be easily consumed by its restless target audience.
Plus, the movie has Jacob Tremblay's younger (and impossibly cute) sister Erica in it! That's worth a point I reckon.
The Verdict: 6/10
Essentially Groundhog Day meets Mean Girls, Before I Fall is the time loop movie for tweens who would otherwise be bored by sci-fi Tom Cruise or Bill Murray's unique comedic stylings. It's nothing flash but it isn't terrible either, a purely passable young adult drama carrying the exact message you would expect.
Before I Fall is in cinemas across Australia now.