Robi Mitchell delivers a wonderful feature debut with Every Time I Die that demands your attention throughout. An understated film that rewards the audience by the final act.
Sam (Drew Fonteiro) takes up an offer from his friends to stay at a remote lake house when he is tragically murdered, his consciousness travels through the body of his best friend, Jay (Marc Menchaca), to protect him from his killer.
Opening with Sam and getting to know him and his issues is a smart touch and essential to understanding the rest of the film when it turns on its head. The use of POV at the start is certainly disorientating for the audience as we see things through Sams eyes (quite literally in the bathroom scene). Sam has issues that much is obvious, but he is surrounded by a good group of friends (specifically his colleague Jay). He however feels like the tag along, the loner of the group of couples, though his reason for feeling out of place. It is soon made clear to the audience in the bar as to why Sam is acting the way he is.
What follows is a smartly written film that stands out for how original it is. The genre-bending works so well with Gal Katzir and director Robi Michael layering the film expertly. It is hard to imagine how this is their first written feature due to the complexity of the story. Michael utilises black outs to help advance his cinematic puzzle ever so wonderfully in his feature directorial debut. As well with some wise shot choices and aided by cinematographer Tal Lazar, they work magic with their framing.
The less revealed about the full plot of the film the better your enjoyment will be, as this is certainly the type of film that is best to go in blind to. The focus on grief and obsession are spread broadly throughout. The idea of the difficulty of letting go is hard for our characters, whether that be from a partners actions or their own.
A lot of Every Time I Die can be classed as understated. The performances certainly reflect this as the ensemble do not go over the top with their performances and play it as straight as possible. This works wonders for the picture as we get to fully embrace what is going on and to not be distracted from the story. This is not to say that the performances are boring, far from it, they are quite emotive and are helped by Fonteiro’s stoic performance as Sam.
The five work well off each other throughout and hold their own when called upon. It is this team effort that epitomises what makes the film work so well. Tyler Fleming has the bulk of the work to do here as he tries to grapple with the consequences of each action that takes place. It is a thankless role considering his character, yet he is more than up for the task as War Vet Tyler.
Every Time I Die falters slightly with its slow paced opening half an hour to allow the audience to relate to Sam. It could do with speeding the story and pace up a little to get going, but when we do get going the film works very well, so this slightly slower than wanted start is more than forgivable. Pacing is in fact an issue throughout due to the fact that you are invested with this group and the story that you want more time with it, yet the slowness removes the opportunity for that, though that is probably due to budget restraints.
That said this is a very smart film that involves you to concentrate to fully grasp what is going on. It could have been a very run of the mill thriller, that is able to switch to an interesting science-fiction that will have you at the edge of your seat as each twist confronts you.
Every Time I Die will surprise you by how confident it is. With a smart script and perfectly dialed in performances Robi Michael has well and truly announced himself with this engaging sci-fi thriller.
Every Time I Die will be released on Digital Download from Monday October 26.