Before I Fall takes Groundhog Day's concept to high school, but fails to do anything interesting with it, despite the boundless potential.
Zoey Deutch – who looks so much like Rose Byrne that I'm shocked they're not related – plays Sam, one of the most popular girls at a high school somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. She and her trio of friends seemingly have it all, which of course means they do not. After a Valentine's party ends with a confrontation with the school's biggest outcast (Elena Kampouris, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2), they rush off into the rainy night and die in a horrific car accident.
Except Sam wakes up the next morning and it's actually the previous day, with the same annoyances, lessons and conversations repeating themselves. All her friends are still alive and the big party – and its ugliness – haven't happened yet. What Sam needs to do to free herself from this time loop is extremely obvious right away, which is part of the reason the film is so frustrating. It's a good hour of the film before it dawns on her that maybe she shouldn't be awful to people, especially someone she doesn't even really know.
But there's a lot of cliché to get through before that happens, as well as an extremely nihilistic section before Sam's big epiphany. As always, clichés can work, but the film has to work with them in an interesting or engaging way. Unfortunately, the movie has the chilly cinematography, the gorgeous homes and scenery, and the appropriately indie soundtrack, but its character development and acting aren't effective or memorable.
Groundhog Day has endured as one of the best comedies of the modern era because of its originality, yes, but also because of its assured comic tone and of course the performance of Bill Murray. There's still plenty to mine out of its conceit – The Mindy Project just did it a few weeks ago, and of course Edge of Tomorrow is extremely underrated – but Before I Fall is content to just let it be as generic as possible. It should have at least put its own stamp on it. As it is, this isn't a movie experience I'd even think about repeating.