Every Time I Die - Grimmfest Review

★★★★★

Directed by: #RobiMichael

Written by: #RobiMichael, #GalKatzir

Starring: #DrewFonteiro, #MarcMenchaca, #MelissaMacedo, #MichelleMacedo, #TylerDashWhite

Grimmfest Film Review by: Darren Tilby



It’s rare these days to find a film that can elicit, within the viewer, a melange of visibly discernible emotions. And yet, Robi Michael’s tear-jerking piece on love and redemption carries this off almost mockingly easily. This mind-bending thriller takes the viewer on a journey full of staggering developments and unexpected occurrences. Every Time I Die is a roller coaster tale of self-discovery and sacrifice, which culminates in a poignant but heart-warming finale.


It takes a while for Every Time I Die to really get going. We begin with Sam (Drew Fonteiro) waking up in bed – in a first-person perspective scene – with his girlfriend, Mia (Melissa Macedo). Sam seems to have it all. But cut to present day and Mia has left, and paramedic Sam is suffering from a series of increasingly troubling blackouts and nightmares. Sam’s work colleague and friend, Jay (Marc Menchaca) – whose wife, Penny (Michelle Macedo), is Mia’s twin sister – invites him over to his secluded lodge for a weekend break, where he is reunited with his old flame. Unfortunately, she’s brought her husband Tyler (Tyler Dash White), a veteran with PTSD, along with her. And it’s not long until Tyler finds out about Mia and Sam’s relationship; revealing they had actually had an affair. It’s here – around the 35-minute mark – that Tyler, in a fit of jealous rage, murders Sam near to the lake.


There’s an active motif of mirroring in this film. The first instance comes soon after Sam’s murder. Awakening again in bed (and again, from a first-person perspective), we’re initially led to believe this is a flashback sequence—which are a crucial facet of the film. Instead, Sam’s consciousness has drifted into Jay, and the woman we thought was Mia, is actually Penny. It’s a brilliantly judged and executed scene, one which establishes the thematic bedrock of the movie: the notion of looking at oneself and coming to terms with trauma. More specifically, Sam having caused his sister’s death at an early age.


#RanBagno’s excellent mood-setting score drifts through the film, evoking an atmosphere of melancholia. But there’s also a calming quality to the music; an inkling of acceptance that permeates the gloom. #TalLazar (cinematographer) uses the isolated rural setting to remarkable effect. Shooting in muted colours to emphasise the melancholy and utilising a mixture of long shots to capture the outdoor vistas, and close-ups during the indoor scenes to exaggerate the tension between the characters.


Every Time I Die is undoubtedly a well-crafted movie, but some may take issue with its slow pacing. Pacing is very much down to personal preference, of course. I personally didn’t have a problem, as I found it used this time well, establishing the character’s relationships and helping us to connect with them. But some people will, so it’s worth bearing in mind. But honestly, it's hard to find fault when a film is this well-written (both Robi Michael and Gal Katzir have excelled themselves here), this well-acted, and this affecting. Every Time I Die is an example of low-budget film-making at its very best and shouldn’t be missed.