I confess that I’m a sucker for ‘Groundhog Day’-like movies and series episodes. It’s been tackled by a lot of different creators including classics like ‘Xena: Warrior Princess‘ and Star Trek: Voyager, more recent shows like Lost Girl, and movies like ‘Edge of Tomorrow‘ and Netflix’s original movie, ‘ARQ.’ There’s just something about the idea of being able to relive a day over and over and tweaking it to make it perfect that appeals to me. Of course, there’s also the “horror” side of it where you’re trapped in an infinite loop that doesn’t seem to end. Most media that take on this concept of an infinite time loop dabble with the despair that comes from having to relive the same conversations and bad decisions.
‘ARQ’ begins with the same trope of the Groundhog Day-esque stories – with someone waking up in bed to a “new day.” You’ll see from the trailer (below) that soon after, the protagonist Renton, played by Robbie Amell, is assaulted and murdered by some masked home invaders, only to wake up again soon after at the same exact time as before. He’s joined by a woman, Hannah, played by Rachael Taylor, who is lying in bed with him platonically at the beginning of each loop. She initially thinks he’s crazy until she starts remembering the time loops too.
Overall, ‘ARQ’ is obviously a low-budget movie. The camera work is shaky, constantly moving, and jerks rapidly from shot to shot – perhaps by design but I didn’t care for it much. The set is basically only a few rooms in Renton’s house, with nondescript furniture a high-tech-looking spinning gadget about the size of an old-timey newspaper press (the “ARQ” of the movie’s title). Normally, this would be enough to put me off a movie; however, the story is very well done and the acting was engaging enough to keep me interested in the story. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed the movie from beginning to end and not at all disappointed in the ending.
One of the things I liked, in particular, was how each iteration of the repeated day had very drastic results as Renton changed his behaviors. A lot of the Groundhog stories just have a lot of repeated silliness with a final “aha!” moment where the whole thing makes sense. In contrast, ‘ARQ,’ actually reveals more and more of the overall story until you get to the end and it all comes together. It’s a surprisingly good movie! Overall, my recommendation is, yes, you should check it out on Netflix!