In the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s Phil Connors tells two bowling alley patrons a story about a day of leisure on a beach with a beautiful woman. “Why couldn’t I get that day?” he bemoans, referring to his now-famous predicament of being stuck in a time loop, forced to relive Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania over and over and over again.
Whenever that plot device is used in a film, chances are that 24 hours of rest and relaxation are not in order for our protagonist – something that Bill Cage (Tom Cruise) knows all too well in this week’s Edge of Tomorrow. In the sci-fi movie, Cage is caught in a time loop where he is eternally stuck on the day of an alien invasion that threatens to wipe out humanity. He probably wouldn’t mind trading that for doing hundreds of thousands of reports on Phil the Groundhog, instead.
As the characters in Edge of Tomorrow face rather excruciating circumstances, we started thinking what would happen if some of our favorite movies that don’t use time loops were injected with a little dash of fantasy to make things more interesting. The result was the following list of movie days we wouldn’t want to relive.
For the purposes of our list, the movie doesn’t necessarily have to take place over the course of a single day – but any example had to play a large role in the film’s overarching plot, and would be horrible to experience over and over and over again.
Christmas Eve is usually a joyous occasion, as families come together to celebrate the holiday with delicious feasts and exchanging of presents. However, for John McClane (Bruce Willis), the day has a very different meaning. In John McTiernan’s groundbreaking action flick, the New York police officer does battle with a group of terrorists (or are they thieves?) while attending a Christmas party in Los Angeles.
Anyone who’s seen Die Hard understands why it would be miserable to relive the film’s events day after day. As McClane fights Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and friends, he pushes his body to its limits, crawling through elevator shafts and stepping on shards of broken glass while operating as a one-man army and Nakatomi Plaza’s lone hope. He does emerge victorious in the end, but having to endure the attack on a daily basis would be especially grueling – and the fear of losing a loved one (who knows when the time loop will end?) could prove to be too much to handle.
And you thought last minute shopping was a stressful as the season gets…
As we’ve written before, Henry Hill (Ray Liota) lives a pretty charmed life as a member of the mob. Illustrated by the Copacabana sequence, he’s clearly at the top of the world, commanding the respect of those around him and fulfilling his dreams. But like most Martin Scorsese morality plays, some rather serious consequences emerge towards the movie’s final act.
One of Goodfellas’ most noteworthy set pieces is titled “Last Day as a Wiseguy,” which chronicles Henry’s final moments as a gangster. With its relentless pacing and furious style, Scorsese is able to convey feelings of paranoia, frustration, and loss of control as our “hero” worries about helicopters following him, constantly traveling all over the place, and nearly gets into a car accident. Showing a coked out mobster as his world collapses around him, the segment gives audiences a darker side of choosing this lifestyle. It even ends in one of the worst ways a person can end a day: in jail. Regardless of how much you enjoyed your previous endeavors, being trapped in this particular day for eternity seems pretty bleak.
In space, no one can hear you scream, and that’s particularly troubling for the crew of the Nostromo. On their return journey back to Earth, the ship receives a distress signal from LV-426 and after some exploration, an unwanted passenger starts wrecking havoc on the unprepared and terrified group.
Honestly, we’re not sure who would suffer in the time loop the most. Considering the film’s events play out in (essentially) the same way each time, each character would be forced to go through a painful end every time. Kane (John Hurt) would probably suffer the most, as a baby alien would always be popping through his chest. Other crew members including Parker (Yaphet Koto) and Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) would constantly experience close encounters they didn’t like the first time around.
And even though Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) lives to see another day, a time loop wouldn’t be any easier on her, as she would have to deal with the emotional trauma that comes with losing friends and an overwhelming sense of helplessness when the day resets.
It may be beautiful to look at, but Alfonso Cuarón’s Oscar-winning film Gravity probably scared an entire generation away from a potential career as an astronaut. While repairing the Hubble Space Telescope, debris causes Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) to abort their mission and struggle to stay alive as they look for a way to return home – with nobody out there to help them.
The images of Ryan floating aimlessly through space are more than enough to get an empty feeling in your stomach. During her journey, she must deal with low oxygen tanks, faulty equipment, and a constant circle of debris that pops up every 90 minutes. It’s true that Dr. Stone lives to tell her extraordinary tale, but the physical and emotional toll would certainly leave its mark after so many time resets. Admittedly, she does gain a new appreciation for life and undergoes a spiritual rebirth as a result of her ordeal, but there are safer ways to go about that transformation.
In Edge of Tomorrow, we are meant to sympathize with Tom Cruise as he fights through his plight, but in this hypothetical scenario, he would very much be the cause of an unpleasant experience. Finding his way into Max’s (Jamie Foxx) cab, Vincent (Cruise) essentially makes the driver his hostage as he treks through Los Angeles to murder witnesses in an important federal investigation.
Being in the company of a sociopathic killer is something we wouldn’t sign up for once, never mind a time loop. On his odyssey in the City of Angels, Max becomes an unwitting accomplice in multiple homicides, undergoing intense emotional trauma that almost becomes too much to bear. If that wasn’t enough, he also has to step out of his comfort zone and save his new love interest Annie (Jada Pinkett Smith) from being the last victim, so it’s a rather taxing day for an unassuming cabbie who dreams of owning a limo company.
You could say that once the loop resets, Max could make the decision to not pick up Vincent as a fare, but his knowledge of how the evening plays out could trigger an enormous sense of guilt, which would be difficult to live with.
It may have been a blast for audiences to see a scenery-chewing Denzel Washington win an Oscar for playing a villain, but Alonzo Harris doesn’t seem like the best guy to hang out with. Unfortunately for Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke), the high-ranking narcotics officer must evaluate the rookie cop, which leads to a “training day” Hoyt will never forget.
To determine if Hoyt has what it takes, Harris takes him on a tour of the seedy LA underbelly. Over the next 24 hours, Hoyt encounters a variety of dangerous drug dealers, is subject to Alonzo’s unpredictable behavior, and ends up having to fight for his life on more than one occasion. Training Day’s portrayal of this world is particularly unsettling, giving some reason to pause at the prospect of this particular career path. While being a police officer is no easy job, the thought of having to relive that particular day over and over again is something we wouldn’t sign up for. If a chance presented itself, we’d request a different supervising officer handle the evaluation.
Studies say that five to seven percent of the world’s population suffers from some kind of claustrophobia, which automatically qualifies 2010’s Devil for our list. On an ordinary day, five people board and are later trapped in an elevator, which is probably one of the worst nightmares of those who have the condition. All things considered, having this be your recurring day in a time loop would be a terrible experience, even if you were OK with fitting in tight spaces.
But as the film’s title would suggest, there’s more than malfunctioning elevators to deal with during the events of Devil. In addition to claustrophobic panic attacks, sinister supernatural forces are causing damage, either injuring or killing the passengers whenever the lights go out. Bumping into Satan himself is a horrifying proposition in it of itself, but when that meeting takes place in an isolated location where there is literally no place to run, it makes it all the more terrifying. There’s no question that a Devil time loop would be a living hell for the characters.
Do the Right Thing
Spike Lee examined the racial tensions and relationships of our contemporary society in his landmark 1989 film Do the Right Thing. The critically acclaimed work largely takes place over the course of a single day, which is noteworthy for being the hottest day of the year. Unbearable heat is something unpleasant enough to endure during a time loop, but in Lee’s Brooklyn, the frustration about the weather carries over into other aspects of life, leading to a neighborhood tragedy in the night.
Most of the film showcases the residents and their day-to-day activities, punctuated by some uncomfortable interactions between prejudiced pizzeria owner Sal (Danny Aiello), his son Pino (John Tuturro), and the young blacks that make up a majority of the town’s population. Everything is business as usual until the catastrophic third act, when the hatred boils over into a massive fight that claims the life of Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn), sees the pizza place destroyed, and relationships permanently damaged. It doesn’t matter what ethnicity you are; being forced to experience that day of unrest over and over again – where the only answer is destruction – would be very painful and upsetting.
Not all bad movie days have to be filled with damaging events that cause severe physical and emotional turmoil. There are those where the misery can be played for laughs. Sometimes, people just have one of those days where everything that can go wrong does. This is what happens to Grimm (Bill Murray), Phyllis (Geena Davis), and Loomis (Randy Quaid) as they attempt to escape New York after robbing a bank. Just because this entry is lighter than most, it doesn’t change the fact that this would be a pretty awful day to relive on a constant basis.
Sure, the thrill of successfully robbing a bank is a great way to start, but that’s where the fortunes change. Misplaced street signs, getting lost, communication mishaps, and mobsters are only a few of the obstacles the trio have to dodge if they are to get away with their prize. They do finally catch their flight after a long and torturous process, but knowing what you must go through almost makes stealing the money not worth it in the first place.
Night of the Living Dead
Since they typically deal with life-or-death situations, being stuck in a horror movie time loop would be a miserable and tiring experience for anybody. Even if you know how to defeat whatever monster is hunting you, the act of repeating the steps daily would start to become tedious after a while. We’re guessing this is what would happen should Night of the Living Dead use the plot device.
It doesn’t matter which version of the horror classic you pick (there are several), the idea of being unable to escape from zombies is extremely unpleasant. Fighting for your life against an army of hungry creatures is quite the grind, and reliving a night of terrorizing thrills would actually become very tiring. If the day keeps resetting and nothing changes, it’d be easy for anyone to give up hope and lose the will to live, succumbing to the way of the zombie and living off of brains for eternity.
(500) Days of Summer
Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) spends 500 days obsessing over a girl named Summer (Zooey Deschanel), and director Marc Webb spends most of the romantic comedy illustrating the ups and downs of a relationship. Most of the 500 days are fairly uneventful and just a regular 24 hours, but there’s one in particular we would rather not experience over and over again.
Months after breaking up, the two young lovers reconnect and Tom finds himself invited to a party at Summer’s apartment. Thinking that he’s getting another chance with the girl of his dreams, the day’s happenings are presented in a truly heartbreaking “expectations vs. reality” split screen, as Tom realizes that he’s attending Summer’s engagement party. As you would expect, this sends him into a pretty deep depression and it takes a chance encounter with a girl named Autumn for him to finally break out of his funk. Frustration over lost love is something we all go through, and as Tom shows us it’s hard to move on. It’d be even more difficult if we never got that opportunity.
These are just a few of truly miserable movie days we would not want to experience in a time loop. Some days are so bad that once is more than enough. Of course, our list is not meant to be all-inclusive, so as Bill Cage no doubt adds his tale of woe to this list, make sure to tell us some movie days you wouldn’t want to relive in the comments section below.
Edge of Tomorrow is in theaters June 6.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.