February 2 is Groundhog Day, so you’ll find me doing the same thing I do every Groundhog Day, watching the movie Groundhog Day, because Groundhog Day just isn’t Groundhog Day without watching Groundhog Day. (That sentence was brought to you by the people who bet me I couldn’t use “Groundhog Day” six times in a sentence.) Truth is, I have always loved stories that have time loops in them. As someone who constantly gets things wrong, the idea that someone could live the same day over and over again until they get things right appeals to me. Here’s a list of my top five books and movies about people who get stuck in some sort of time loop.
Groundhog Day—Of course we have to start this list with Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. The movie never explains how weatherman Phil Connors gets stuck in a time loop, having to relive February 2 over and over again, but I think the groundhog had something to do with it.
Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver—In this debut YA novel, Sam Kingston wakes up the morning after dying in a car accident, fated to relive the day she dies over and over again. Like in Groundhog Day, the story is about redemption and the reason for the time loop is not given, but it sure makes a great story. This book was turned into a movie in 2017, starring Zoey Deutch.
Happy Death Day—This 2017 slasher film has been called Groundhog Day meets Scream. In this movie starring Jessica Rothe, Tree, a selfish college student who gets murdered on her birthday, becomes stuck in a time loop until she finds and murders her murderer. I found it interesting that though she comes back to life each time the time loop restarts, the injuries from her previous murders actually have residual effects, resulting in her being hospitalized during one of the looped days.
12:01—Though there are many time loop movies I could mention that explain how the main character got stuck in a time loop, Source Code, Looper, Edge of Tomorrow, 12:01 is the only one making my list. First, because it stars Jonathan Silverman and Jeremy Piven, and second, because it has one of my favorite lines, “I’ll call you back, Mom. The day’s repeating.” An illegal experiment has caused a time loop and only office worker Barry Thomas realizes it, as he is forced to relive the worst day of his life, until he figures out how to stop the experiment from happening.
Christmas Every Day, by William Dean Howells—This short story also gives a reason for the time loop, a little girl making a deal with the Christmas Fairy. The interesting thing about this story is that everyone knows they are stuck in a time loop, and the consequences of having to have Christmas every day take their toll on everyone. One of my favorite lines states “at the end of a week’s time so many people had lost their tempers that you could pick up lost tempers anywhere, they perfectly strewed the ground. Even when people tried to recover their tempers, they usually got somebody else’s, and it made the most dreadful mix.” This is a fun story to read to children, especially around Christmas.
I may not be stuck in a time loop, but now I want to read these books and watch these movies again. Movie marathon at my house! I’ll bring the movies. Who’s bringing the spinach dip?
Julie is Traffic Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.