In the 1991 classic Groundhog Day, Bill Murray finds himself doomed to relive the same day over and over again. Along the way, he learns valuable lessons and improves himself and those around him until he manages to break out of the time loop. Before I Fall is based on the same premise. However, where Groundhog Day makes you slowly fall in love with Murray's rough-around-the-edges weatherman, Before I Fall is an experience you will never want to relive.
Directed by Ry Russo-Young, the movie's plot is as immature as its high school protagonist Samantha Kingston (Zoey Deutch).
It follows Samantha as she's forced to relive the same day over and over, after meeting with an apparently fatal accident after a party. It's a premise that's been done before, however, the movie seems so amazed by its own concept that it cannot help reminding us of it.
The opening scene itself begins with a monologue about “tomorrows” and “todays”, in class we see Samantha learn about Sisyphus. Moments before her accident, the song playing on the car stereo is about being stuck in a moment. The only way this movie could have further harped on its premise is if the director made a cameo appearance just to yell the phrase “TIME LOOP” for a whole minute.
And this is where the movie fails, because it is so caught up in just the idea of its premise that it misses the implications of the premise. Instead, we get over an hour-and-a-half of Mean Girls playing out in the Twilight Zone.
Samantha starts off as inherently unlikable. Blessed with a seemingly perfect life, Samantha seems to be making the worst of it – part of a clique of bullies, mean to the nice guy, hooking up with the dumb jock, and unnecessarily horrid to her family. So there is plenty of scope for her to improve her life and fix things. However, Samantha does little of that.
Instead, her reaction to being in the time loop goes from fear, quite understandably, to rebellion, hormonal lust, casual indifference, and, finally, though least convincingly, a need to do the right thing.
Along the way we go from simply disliking her to actively hating her for her consistently baffling decisions. Faced with the clearest of choices, Samantha always manages to disappoint the viewer's faith in her intelligence or goodness. She kowtows before bullies, breaks up with her boyfriend on flimsy grounds, is rude to her parents, tries to seduce her class teacher. By the end of it, we're hoping for the time loop to end for our sake more than hers.