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  Every Time I Die Body Hopping
Year: 2019
Director: Robi Michael
Stars: Drew Fonteiro, Marc Menchaca, Melissa Macedo, Michelle Macedo, Tyler Fleming, Lia Johnson, Paul Megna, Kenneth Moronta, Frankie Hinton, Andrea Leigh
Genre: Drama, Thriller, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Sam (Drew Fonteiro) wakes up where he shouldn't be - in bed with the wife of one of his friends, who has been way for a year in the military, thus giving Sam the chance to act on his love for Mia (Melissa Macedo). She has slept with him, but this morning seems to have second thoughts about her behaviour and can't get away fast enough, as Sam goes into the shower. As he is in the bathroom, he suffers a brief blackout, a blinding headache he cannot explain, but recovers and thinks no more of it, yet these blackouts will grow ever more frequent as he goes through his day and his job as a paramedic alongside best pal Jay (Marc Menchaca), who is a lot more devil may care about everything in a way the more serious Sam is not...

There's a reason for Sam's seriousness, and also those blackouts, which will become apparent the further this progressed, for this was no ordinary drama about adultery and guilt, though it was that as well. What writer and director Robi Michael added to this to make it stand out more was the supernatural element, therefore what began as a straightforward story of the lead character's affairs of the heart with the odd stylistic quirk added (most obviously the subjective, first person camera that opened the movie) gradually transformed into a thriller plot as Tyler (Tyler Fleming), the cuckolded husband, returns home to Mia and let's say, does not take his wife's infidelity very well, to put it mildly. This results in an act of murder that you would not have anticipated.

Except you would, of course, for it was clear there was more going on here than met the eye, with its regular flashbacks to Sam's childhood where it appears he accidentally caused the death of his little sister and has harboured the regret ever since. But is all as it seems? You get the idea, Michael wanted to pull the rug out from under the audience more than once throughout the running time, which they kind of achieved, though the atmosphere was one of such mystery that you would be tending to second guess the plot over and over, especially when the deliberate pace and gradual reveals encouraged you to be one step ahead. That it may not turn out quite as you expect was to the film's credit, however that was largely down to a hefty dose of spiritual matters that threatened to overpower the rest of the movie, entirely on purpose, that was.

The old cliché about going towards the light when you die, seeing a tunnel that is supposed to have Heaven, or something like it, at the end, was implemented more than once here, as it transformed itself into a body swap fantasy not unlike a sobering, sadfaced version of Freaky Friday, only with a lot more death. There had been movies with this premise before, either used for horror (Fallen) or comedy (All of Me), but the sombre mood in Every Time I Die was best expressed as a straightfaced example of how to portray it with all the otherworldly implications given plenty of space for the audience to chew over, despite its frequent aims to ramp up the tension in its latter half. It managed this to an extent, and if you adjusted to the pace you would be rewarded; another bonus was that it didn't beat you over the head with the religious aspect, as this was a non-denominational afterlife we were dealing with, so there was no white robed man with a big white beard to be seen at any point in the story. It may have adopted an idea that had been done before, but what it did with it was intriguing enough to justify your ninety minutes. Music by Ran Bagno.

[Every Time I Die will be available across all major streaming and Digital Platforms from 26th October.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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