More engrossing that it has any right to be, “Repeat” is a “what lies beyond” thriller with a touch of pathos and a decent third act twist, and a lot of quiet discussion, debate and marriage breakdown preceding it.
It’s a low-tech “technology” tale from the UK, about a cognitive brain researcher (Tom England) whose studies on people’s theta waves make him wonder about the static he’s hearing from this transceiver he has hooked up to his brain study coil. At some point he decides he’s speaking to the dead, that “The end is just the beginning.”
The stumbling, non-linear plot takes us from his secretive, off-campus early work — paying students to be test subjects — to a year and a half later. His schoolgirl daughter has disappeared, his marriage (Charlotte Ritchie plays wife Emily) is in couples counseling and his university is fretting that he might bring shame to them all.
Because he’s still doing the research off campus. He’s holding public “demonstrations” at theaters and pubs. And he’s letting volunteers from the audience speak with loved ones who’ve passed.
The best effect in this Grant Archer, Richard Miller film is the crackly disembodied voices of the dead-and-somewhat-confused-about-where-they-are. The cheesiest special effect is the glowing, copper-covered magneto coil that is the source of most of the magic tech.
We know, just from the whole “missing daughter” plot point, that Ryan will use his gadget to try and figure out what happened to his little girl. What we can’t guess, not entirely, is what he’ll find.
England makes an effective, emotionally-repressed workaholic lead and Ritchie isn’t bad in support.
But their chemistry is tepid, the big emotional moments are all muted and the pathos of contacting missing daughter Samantha (Ellila-Jean Wood) lacks anything remotely like that “Ghost” punch in the heart.
And without that, all you’re left with is a cheap looking gadget, some chilling sound “from beyond,” and plot twists that feel like too much of the movie that’s played out before their arrival, a pulled-punch.
Cast: Tom England, Charlotte Ritchie, Joshua Ford and Ellila-Jean Wood
Credits: Directed by Grant Archer and Richard Miller, script by Richard Miller. A Gravitas Ventures release.
Running time: 1:35