I know, I know, I know. To be as precise as I can, it wasn’t that he thought it was a bad show, because that wasn’t the case at all. His position – as best I can state it – is that the entire program’s catalogue relied on a kind of narrative trickery that almost always led to what he dubbed “the same conclusion.” He contended that if you’d seen one episode you’d – in reality – seen them all because they stuck to the formula so closely that viewers needn’t invest in understanding or appreciating the characters because what mattered most was the last scene. Then, the truth would be revealed, and it was always some ‘spin’ few could logically anticipate because to see it sooner would destroy the work as presented.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s a mouthful. I know.
But it was an opinion I could certainly understand. When you go into any film knowing that the ending involves such a dramatic shift of perception then you do begin to watch everything – the players, the settings, even the props – a bit differently. Naturally, you’re looking for the seams, as it were: you want to be able to identify exactly when and where the storyteller positioned clues (if any) pointing you in the direction of a conclusion. Whether you found them or not never detracted from your enjoyment unless you solved the unspoken mystery from the beginning, at which point you’d turn to the person next to you and say, “I saw that coming.”
Director Craig Singer’s 6:45 (2021) suffers from an ample amount of creative overkill. He and screenwriter Robert Dean Klein have fashioned a kinda/sorta whodunit within what audiences were promised to be a Groundhog Day time loop; but what they deliver is an entirely different animal, one we’ve seen all-too-often in stories involving a descent (or is that ascent?) from madness.
You be the judge.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last few paragraphs for the final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the product packaging:
“A couple embarks on a weekend getaway only to find the island curiously deserted. After stumbling upon the town’s dark secret, they trigger a time loop, forcing them to relive a demented cycle of terror with seemingly no means of escape.”
Occasionally I like to use this space to be as specific as possible because what follows may lead readers to a different conclusion. So – right up front – here it is: I didn’t dislike 6:45. It may’ve disappointed me – much of which is owed to the way it's constructed and marketed – but that there’s them apples.
As such, stories like this have been done since the golden days of television, many of which appeared in episodes of The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and Night Gallery. There’s nothing new here – heck, it’s the kind of thing that even M. Night Shyamalan is still writing checks off of – and I think that’s a disservice to the onscreen talent. Reed is good – he conveys the increasing paranoia of being stuck on repeat very well, and he even manages to wring a bit of pathos to moments where he does absolutely nothing to save himself and his alleged soulmate from the assault of an always-out-of-focus attacker. I felt that Duke was given a bit too little to do here – many of her emotional ‘beats’ are mild rehashes with little new information gleaned – but she’s a budding master at conveying the commonplace intimacy of everyday relationships. Mousy yet resolved, she’s the quintessential ‘girl next door’ you always rooted for who couldn’t quite escape a bad match-up, and your heart breaks every single time her life comes to its end time and time again. (Dammit, Jules, you're perfect! He doesn't know a good thing when he's got it! Don't listen to him! Call me!)
To the film’s credit, 6:45 has garnered an impressive number of festival trophies – all of them essentially tied to Singer’s ability to flesh out the story – and I’d heartily agree that such praise is well earned. The film has an efficiency to spinning the tale onward – even through its most repetitive sequences, though I was put off by so much post-production camera trickery in the second half. (Sorry, folks, but I’m never a fan of any stylistic technique that reminds me this is no organic experience, and this one uses it far too often.) As I’ve tried to be clear, my hesitation on granting the feature an enthusiastic thumbs up rests on the fact that we’ve all ‘been there, done that’ with the story. While I’ll concede there’s always an audience for this kind of thing, most of the times it's film nerds, critics, and academics … folks who don’t see flicks the same way the masses do … and I tend to be a bit more ‘blue color’ than most who blog these days.
Call me old-fashioned, but I like my lunatics properly diagnosed.
6:45 (2021) is produced by Birds Fly Dogs Bark Wind Blows Productions. DVD distribution (for this particular release) is being coordinated by the reliable Well Go USA Entertainment. As for the technical specifications? This all looks and sounds delightful, though there’s a modest amount of gore for those who prefer to be warned about that sort of thing. As for the special features? Gasp! None! Zip! Nada! Zilch! C’mon, folks, it would’ve been nice for a little something extra.
(Mildly) Recommended. Sigh. The chief problem I have with films like 6:45 is that we’ve all seen this kinda/sorta thing before – sometimes better, sometimes not – and this one honestly brings nothing new to the table, no matter how well directed, acted, or produced. At 93 minutes, it’s too long for ‘the twist’ ending, and it ends up feeling bloated by a lot of post-production camera trickery that increasingly reminds you that you’re watching a movie. (Hello, split screens! Multiple camera views! Artistic crossfades!) At some point I stopped caring for the characters and just started watching for ‘the twist,’ and that’s never a good development.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Well Go USA Entertainment provided me with a complimentary Blu-ray of 6:45 (2021) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.