Time loops have become quite a familiar narrative device in fiction as of late. Groundhog Dog made it mainstream, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that time travel, especially the looping system, started to become a permanent staple in entertainment. It is indeed a fascinating device to explore, as it forces the characters to engage with others and learn things they would have never learned otherwise. Re/member, a new Netflix film that arrives this week at the service, is ready to give us more time-looping adventures.
Re/member is a film directed by Eiichiro Hasumi and stars Kanna Hashimoto, Gordon Maeda, Maika Yamamoto, Fuju Kamio, Mayuu Yokoya, and Kotaro Daigo. The film tells the story of Asuka, a young student with no friends, who suddenly sees herself trapped in a time loop with five other students from her class. However, the time loop itself seems to be the least of the problems. Every night, a monster drenched in blood comes to kill them, so they can wake up the next morning and do it all over again.
Re/member is based on the manga written by Welzard and illustrated by Katsutoshi Murase. Like many other manga adaptations before it, the film follows a similar production level. This is nothing against Re/member as a brand, but the manga is not popular enough to get a budget that can be considered high. A TV series would have also been a great way to adapt this story, but a movie is what we get, and for what it is, a low-budget movie, Re/member does quite well.
Murase does a great job using the resources he has at his disposal to create a story that feels very much like many others in the teenage drama genre. Make no mistake, this story can have all the monsters and horror elements that it wants, but at its core, it is a story about friendship, teen relationships, and issues. You will find the classic archetypes for this type of story among the characters, the jock, the popular girl, the nerd, and the loner. They are all here.
The movie needs to compress a lot of lore and backstory into a movie that doesn’t go over the two-hour mark, so expect a lot of details to be vague and undetermined. A mystery is at the story’s core, but it is never explored. There is no reason at all for what is happening other than there is a curse going around. A curse is reason enough for bad things to happen, but when you are dealing with this type of story, adding details might create more tension.
The cast is really good. All the actors are young and talented, and they all follow the modern Japanese school of acting, mainly due to a lot of overacting. Japanese acting only seems to have two levels, the over-the-top acting mode and then the very subdued and minimal. In this movie, it is great to find some subtlety among the exaggeration and makes some characters stand out. Hashimoto does a great job being the movie’s lead character. She feels like an everyday type of girl, but she conveys the strength of a hero.
In terms of visuals, the low budget really doesn’t allow for great production values, but Hasumi and his team do what they can. The result is a look that feels almost in line with those wonderful movies from the late 90s and early 2000s that have that wonderful grain in the picture. Re/member doesn’t have the grain, but the lighting and the color schemes feel very much like films coming from that era. The work put into the movie pays off when the movie looks like a movie and not just some TV episodes that have been stretched into a feature.
As we said before, some of the story’s details feel glossed over in favor of developing the relationships between the characters, which is great because not everything needs to be explained. We don’t need things to be explained in detail for the character work to be meaningful. It would have been great if the mystery element that is introduced at the beginning could have been used a bit more. However, it is enough for the story to work, and it keeps things moving along at a very good pace.
In the end, Re/member is just a fun and enjoyable teen drama. Some imagery is truly terrifying, especially early in the movie, but as the story progresses, it becomes more of a very tender story about friendship. It might not be the scariest film you have ever seen or the best acted or produced, but it has that entertainment factor that many more expensive movies have forgotten about. Netflix keeps pushing for these manga adaptations. Maybe one day, we can get a proper one on some of the best ones out there.