Salem Horror Festival – 6:45

An inventive and disturbing time-loop horror.

Synopsis: What if one of the best days of your life suddenly turned into your very worst nightmare? And what if you were forced to relive that same day again and again?

The time loop concept is one that (fittingly enough) often finds itself repeated in film, spanning genres with each new release building upon and subverting the tropes of the entries before it. 6:45 has all this history and layering built in, including a consideration of the gendered differences in these films (men experience and navigate the loop, women are often manipulated as a result of the repetition) and by presenting a sinister threat to the couple, exploits this legacy to incredibly disquieting effect.

Bobby (Michael Reed) and Jules (Augie Duke) are a passionate but troubled couple, taking some time away on Bog Grove, an island where Bobby grew up. The pair seek to put their recent differences aside and enjoy their holiday. Despite those tensions and an early morning alarm that neither recalls setting, they do manage a near-perfect day until the pair are brutally attacked by a hooded stranger. As Bobby wakes at 6:45am he realises they are on track to repeat the same day over and over.

The time loops within 6:45 are handled in economical fashion, avoiding too much repetition of near-identical scenes, instead having Bobby come to terms with what is happening relatively quickly and setting about trying to change things. Director Craig Singer utilises multiple scenes playing out in collage fashion, building the layers of their relationship up to the trip as well as the loops within it, allowing for a texture to develop without the need to offer too many flashbacks that would risk interrupting the flow. It is a clever move that plunges the viewer into the chaos the relationship so often presents. That the first day plays out in greater detail allows for the solidification of their relationship and how the pair work together. Reed and Duke have excellent chemistry, which is difficult when they have to move from passionate sex scenes, arguments, enjoyment of one another’s company, all with an underlying tension that never feels far from the surface. Both performances feel organic, which offset a few larger, more variable performances from some supporting actors, but as the focus remains on Jules and Bobby those moments don’t detract from that core relationship.

As the narrative continues there is a tendency to draw proceedings out a little too long and it loses much of its forward direction. That this happens as the film takes a far darker, more hard-hitting turn is unfortunate, leading to a period where the film wanders, seemingly unable to find its footing. When it does find itself again, it does so with considerable impact with a tonal shift that won’t be for everyone, but justifies itself well enough and more importantly, sets itself apart from other takes on time loops. The sense of threat is well realised throughout with the presence of the hooded figure never far from the couple in a development that prompts the viewer to continuously search the frame. The coastal scenery features heavily, drawing on the quietness of the area to enhance the isolation and co-dependence of Jules and Bobby.

An impactful study of a tense relationship, supported by dedicated performances that allow the narrative to explore much darker themes and stand out more as a result.

3.5 out of 5 stars

3.5 out of 5 stars

6:45 played as part of the Salem Horror Festival. You can check out more about the festival at their webpage. For more information about where you can see 6:45 see the film’s webpage.