ARQ (2016)

(Netflix Streaming, January 2017) As far as low-budget Science Fiction movies go, ARQ is quite a bit better than similar movies. The first SF movie to be released as a Netflix original (having acquired the rights to the film like any other studio), ARQ is cleverly written, professionally directed and features decent actors. The premise stems from familiar guideposts, as a man wakes up to criminals invading his house for money, dies and finds himself stuck in a time loop. But writer/director Tony Elliott then has fun playing with the premise, as someone else joins the protagonist in the time loop and bigger mysteries are revealed. The somewhat bleak ending is divisive (much of it falls into a big plot hole), but the film itself is intriguing, satisfying and slickly executed. Robbie Amell makes for a suitably sympathetic hero, while Rachael Taylor has a more complicated role than what initially appears to be his girlfriend. The result is perfectly watchable despite a small cast, limited locations and low-budget aesthetics. ARQ is even more interesting as a “Netflix Original”, suggesting that the streaming company may be able to inject some good genre original programming in its line-up.

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