Happy Death Day, Source Code, Russian Doll, and Edge of Tomorrow. They all have one key element in common. Taken from a riff of the Groundhog Day effect, each of these examples of new transformative media have a similar plot device regarding the repeated cycle of a specific time and date. We usually look back at the obvious Groundhog Day, and how the 1993 classic changed the game in terms of spicing up a traditional coming-of-growth narrative. We see it all too commonly nowadays, where the expression “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” specifically enters Hollywood boardrooms and executive meeting in mind, to challenge audiences with duplicate versions of the same old story. At this point in time, it’s arguable that we’re getting tired of this concept, and it’s obvious at this point that studios are starting to run out of imagination to reinvent this concept once more. With the indie scene however, there’s some recent international flicks out there, that take these plot devices, and alter them to create a culturally enriching experience.
In Jon Mikel Caballero’s The Incredible Shrinking Wknd, this very “loop” concept is turned over it’s head into a more transformative and urgent plot-device; a countdown. We follow the film’s lead Alba, and her trials and tribulations during a repetitive (literally) weekend with her friends, involving relationship drama, childhood memory, and celebratory binge drinking. Utilizing a hefty amount of mumble-core influences, the end result of The Incredible Shrinking Wknd sounds riveting on paper, but unfortunately turns into a telenovela inspired pulp piece, where the actions taken place are determined by the film’s wimpy character’s.
In fact, the majority of this film feels like wasted potential. With each loop, we the audience slowly revel in new found motivations and dialogue interchanges regarding Alba’s group of friends, yet the insisted importance of these small revelations feel underwhelming; especially with how unimportant the majority of these discoveries come out to be, when looking at the entire sequence of events. It’s a neat idea to use the Groundhog Day narrative in such personal and small-scale situations; especially with how the film managed to use some of it’s more technical successes, as means to add on to the film’s concept (aspect ratio changes being a major example.) It’s just that it doesn’t conjoin well with the film’s bitter intent between largely forgettable characters.
Emotionally investing in concept, yet blandly redeemable in execution, there was plenty of potential in The Incredible Shrinking Wknd. The end result is unfortunately an all to formulated attempt at creating a character-piece, that unfortunately lacks the most important element needed in any type of character-driven sci-fi esque narrative; an interesting set of unique individuals.
The Incredible Shrinking Wknd screened at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival. The film is currently seeking international distribution