The idea that we might have already experienced a moment, an event, or an entire day is endlessly fascinating for filmmakers, Most obviously, the wry Groundhog Day (1993) starring the inimitable Bill Murray in one of his most famous roles. The Matrix (1999) dabbles with time loops ingeniously in its explanation of déjà vu. Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt offer a high-tension iterating day in the terrific, albeit poorly named sci-fi actioner Edge of Tomorrow (2014). Indie sci-fi film Primer (2004) also has iterative time loops in one of the best time travel movies in the genre, and there are also horror films that explore iterative time loops, notably Happy Death Day (2017).
New indie horror film 6:45 liberally borrows from a lot of these movies, offering up a strange tale of a troubled young couple who have traveled to the sleepy New England seaside town of Bog Grove for a weekend holiday. It’s not a spoiler to say that they both die at the end of their first full day on the island, but not to worry, at 6:45am the next morning, they wake up again, reliving that same final day of their lives. Bobby (Michael Reed) is aware of the repeating cycle, but his girlfriend Jules (Augie Duke) isn’t, so she immediately suspects that he’s just going bonkers: How could they be reliving the same day again and again?
For his party, Bobby wants to protect Jules from her imminent demise, but try as he might, she is endlessly murdered by a mysterious hooded man. Worse, the residents of Bog Grove seem like they might just know what’s going on, notably the creepy Gene (Armen Garo), host of their B&B who might just have an unnatural interest in the young couple, and the maid who definitely seems to know the town’s dark legend. But there’s also Larry (Thomas Waites), the endlessly upbeat bartender and the odd denizen of his local burger joint and bar; do they know what’s up and who the murderer actually is?
As the film goes through its iterative story, it follows the typical genre tropes, from title slides “Day 5”, “Day 17”, to an obsession with clocks that count down the hours remaining in the day, to Bobby’s slowly decaying mental state as he has to accept he has no control over Jules’ fate. Unless the entire iterative limbo of their vacation is actually all about him and the choices he’s made that got him to Bog Grove with Jules.
Indeed, the portion of the film that we keep reliving is quite engaging and interesting in a b-movie horror sort of way. Decent acting, competent cinematography, and a miasma of creepiness that pervades this otherwise beautiful seaside resort. Bobby is a bit of a loser, but Reed offers a solid performance as a man searching within himself for happiness, while Jules is optimistic about him in a very believable way. She knows he’s got his problems, but this seems like it might be the beginning of a new chapter in their relationship.
It’s all interesting and engaging. Until the last 10 minutes, where the film changes entirely, and Detectives Landon (Leonardo Mancini) and Presley (Ray Mancini) show up and try to make sense of the situation. There’s no nice way to put this, the brothers Mancini are awful on camera and their scene is so jarring that it pulls you out of the storyline entirely. The truth of Bog Grove is revealed, and it’s ingenious, but the very last shot is almost completely inexplicable and feels like a cop out by writer Robert Dean Kline. I wish you luck trying to figure out how it explains what you’ve spent the last 80 minutes watching and reliving, again and again.
Knowing how to end a movie is an art that all too many filmmakers have yet to master, from Tim Burton to M. Night Shyamalan. We can now add 6:45 director Craig Singer to the list; the film has one of the sloppiest and most incomprehensible endings I’ve seen in a while. This is really disappointing because up to the last act, it is an interesting and sporadically gripping horror film that explores time as a way to examine bad behavior and its consequences. Not recommended.
Dad At The Movies Note: 6:45 is not recommended for younger audiences due to its mix of close-up and slow-motion gore and violence and sporadic intimate scenes. They’ll also be baffled by the storyline anyway; show ’em Groundhog Day instead.