Groundhog day rip offs

This weekend, Happy Death Day will give audiences that old familiar feeling that they’ve seen something like this before. Because they have: it’s a slasher movie take on Groundhog Day. But Groundhog Day isn’t the only film to use the time loop scenario.

Ever have deja vu? The feeling that you’ve been somewhere, or said something, or did something already and are inexplicably repeating it? I’m sure you have, and if you haven’t, you’ve probably seen Groundhog Day, the Bill Murray comedy where he finds himself reliving the same day over and over again until he gets it right. Groundhog Day may be the most popular example of this trend, but it’s not the only film or TV show to tackle the concept. Happy Death Day is just the most recent example, but here are some more films are basically Groundhog Day rip-offs.

12:01 (1993)

How similar is it to Groundhog Day?

First things first: Groundhog Day didn’t invent the time loop scenario. Richard Lupoff published a short story in 1973 called 12:01, about an executive reliving the same day of his life over and over again. The story was adapted twice, first into a short film and then a feature film. The short film came out in 1990, before Groundhog Day, and the feature hit theaters in 1993, the same year as Groundhog Day. The coincidences of the time loop premise were similar enough that Lupoff and Jonathan Heap, the co-writer of the short film and feature, mulled over a potential lawsuit, but it never came to pass. The feature film stars Jonathan Silverman (remember him?) as a man stuck in a 24-hour time loop, trying to save the woman he loves (Helen Slater) from being murdered. Like Groundhog Day, the same day plays out again and again.

What does it do differently than Groundhog Day?

Groundhog Day famously never explains why the time loop is happening. It just happens. 12:01 attempts to explain the phenomenon with both a particle accelerator and having the main character receive an electrical shock. So word to the wise: don’t get an electrical shock, or you might get stuck reliving the same day over and over again. 12:01 is also a thriller, which is much different than the comedic Groundhog Day.

Run Lola Run (1998)

How similar is it to Groundhog Day?

Lola (Franka Potente) has to score 100,000 Deutsche Mark in twenty minutes or her boyfriend will die. What follows is a frantic, frenetic flick from Tom Tykwer that has the same scenario unfolding three different times, in three different ways. Like Groundhog, we see an event, see it repeated, and see it begin to diverge from the way we initially experienced it, until the main character gets things right.

What does it do differently than Groundhog Day?

Run Lola Run isn’t really a time loop movie, per se. Lola is never aware she’s in a loop, and she’s never trying to find a way to break out of said loop. Instead, the film is just using the time loop premise to recreate the same set-up in three different ways, highlighting the many different ways the same story could possibly unfold. It’s more of a stylish excuse to explore philosophical concepts of free will.

The X-Files: “Monday” (1999)

How similar is it to Groundhog Day?

I don’t have to recap The X-Files for you, right? You know the basic premise: FBI Agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) explore the paranormal on a weekly basis. In the sixth season episode “Monday,” Mulder and Scully find themselves trapped in a loop during a bank robbery that keeps going terribly wrong, with many people – including our two heroes – dying. Like Groundhog Day, the same events, beat for beat, will unfold before our eyes, often in humorous ways. And once again, the goal is to get things right to finally break that damn loop.

What does it do differently than Groundhog Day?

In an interesting twist on the formula, the main characters aren’t the ones who are aware they’re stuck in the loop. Instead, a character named Pam (Carrie Hamilton), the girlfriend of the bank robber, is the one who is aware of the loop, and she’s the one trying to break it. Another twist on the formula: in Groundhog Day, and other films here, when the person aware they’re in the loop dies they often simply wake up and start all over again. Here, Pam’s death is the thing that finally closes the loop. Maybe. Or maybe she’s still stuck in it somewhere. (Cue the spooky X-Files theme).

Primer (2004)

How similar is it to Groundhog Day?

Oh boy, how on earth can I even begin to sum up Primer, Shane Carruth’s mind-bending 2004 time travel film? I can’t – it’s impossible. The film is complex and weird, but also fantastic. It’s taken me about seven re-watches to understand just what the hell is going on here, and even now I’m not 100% sure. Nonetheless, the film involves two friends (Carruth and David Sullivan) who discover a method of time travel. What follows is a slowly unfolding existential nightmare that all turns out to be one big loop. The event that opens the film ends up being the event that ends the film, starting things all over again. Who knows how many times it’s happened? It might even be happening right now.

What does it do differently than Groundhog Day?

Beyond the looping scenario, Primer is really nothing like Groundhog Day, but I felt I’d be remiss if I left it off here. While Groundhog Day is having a bit of fun with its loop, the realization that a loop is happening in Primer is a bit terrifying.

Day Break (2006)

How similar is it to Groundhog Day?

Remember Day Break? It’s okay if you don’t. This 2006 TV series only lasted one season, and then almost everyone had it surgically removed from their memory. Taye Diggs starred as a cop forced to relive the same day again and again. Unfortunately for him, it’s the day he’s framed for murder. Each episode had Diggs’ character trying to find out who the real killer was before everything reset. Just like Groundhog Day, each day reset begins with the main character looking warily at his alarm clock as the time rolls over.

What does it do differently than Groundhog Day?

While each day’s reset in Day Break occurs at the same time, like Groundhog Day, the episodes themselves could pick up at anytime during the predestined day. In Groundhog Day, any injuries – fatal or otherwise – that Bill Murray’s character sustains vanish the minute the day resets to start all over again. In Day Break, injuries Diggs’ character suffered remained even as the day reset, which is kind of a bummer and takes all the fun out of a time loop.

Continue Reading Groundhog Day Rip-Offs >>

Pages: 1 2Next page

Cool Posts From Around the Web: