Something about the idea of time travel has an irresistible charm for Hollywood. Many movies have their central theme around some sort of creative idea about how time is perceived and experienced. Time-loop movies tend to be the best at communicating the beauty of this trope. Briefly, time-loop movies are movies in which one or more characters are thrown into a certain time frame (generally one day) that they cannot move on from.
Time loop movies thrive in all and any genre, from comedy to science fiction to drama and action. You can recommend them to fans of different genres, and they will still have that extra advantage of taking the audience in a head-spinning loop. They are the kind of movies that make a lasting impression because of how enchanting the idea of freezing time has been for human beings. Strange as this type of movie seems, it still made it to the solid classics that are great to watch. Here are our best picks for some of the great Time Loop movies.
10 Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Edge of Tomorrow is a science fiction action movie based on a Japanese novel called All You Need Is Kill. It tells the story of how a soldier (Tom Cruise) is killed in a battle against aliens but is revived every day to live the same experience over and over again. The movie is a little exhausting to see as the soldier does not seem to catch a break from fighting in an absurd time loop that does not seem to stop. As confusing as its plot and ending are, the movie still has a gripping and mysterious pull. Although it was not a box office success, it still received positive reviews, and a sequel is in development.
9 Happy Death Day (2017)
Happy Death Day is an American black comedy hit directed by Christopher Landon and starring Jessica Rothe and Israel Broussard. It revolves around a college student who has to relive the night of her murder with all its gory details over and over until she figures out the identity of the killer.
The movie grossed $125 million worldwide and was a huge success because of how exceptional it is, combining dark comedy, thriller elements, and even verging on a twisted murder mystery. The winning card was definitely the time loop that both entrapped the character and was the reason to save her life. The formula was so successful that they were able to reuse the concept in the sequel, Happy Death Day 2U, and it was just as entertaining.
8 Before I Fall (2017)
Before I Fall is the kind of mystery drama that will have you click on replay as soon as the movie is over. It tells the story of the beautiful Samantha Kingston (Zoey Deutch), who has the perfect life a teenager could ever wish for. She has a loving boyfriend (Kian Lawley) and a well-structured and planned future. Things, however, take a dark turn when she gets in a car crash and dies.
The story doesn’t stop here, she actually magically wakes up to a life of reliving the same day over and over again. Samantha turns into a detective, and everyone around her, including herself, becomes a subject of investigation. The car accident pushes her to contemplate her life from a closer and deeper point of view.
7 Source Code (2011)
Source Code is a sci-fi action thriller directed by Duncan Jones and starring the amazing Jake Gyllenhaal. It tells the story of a pilot who unexpectedly wakes up in the body of a stranger (a train passenger) only to relive the eight minutes before the explosion of a bomb that blows up the train. The movie is fraught with tension, especially as the pilot tries to untangle this complicated web of mysteries surrounding the occurrence.
Most time loop movies are about a 24-hour repeat, but what’s gripping about Source Code is that the events are all happening in an 8-minute window giving the movie a thrilling sense of urgency. It remains one of Jake Gyllenhaal’s best performances.
6 Predestination (2014)
If the time loop/travel genre can be named after a movie, it would most definitely be Predestination. It is an Australian sci-fi movie based on a short story written by Robert A. Heinlein and called “All You Zombies.” It features the life of a time-traveling agent whose main nemesis is a bomber. The protagonist keeps jumping from era to era (sometimes losing control over time), trying to catch the killer, who somehow always seems to escape him. Although predestination is mainly a religious concept, the film is mainly philosophical and dives into the intricacies of time travel and how messing with time can potentially create a trap and a loop that will be hard to survive.
5 Palm Springs (2020)
Palm Springs is a romantic comedy that skillfully incorporates the time loop genre. It tells the story of a bridesmaid, Sarah (Cristin Milioti), who gets trapped in a strange time loop that starts on her sister’s wedding day. When she meets Nyles (Andy Samberg), she realizes that he has been experiencing the same strange occurrence for quite some time now.
They grow to like each other and fall in love as they try to find a way out. The movie arrived at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and very much tapped into the restless feeling audiences were experiencing. Stuck inside and left to repeat the same routines over and over again.
4 Boss Level (2020)
Boss Level is a science fiction action movie directed by Joe Carnahan. It resembles The Edge of Tomorrow in that it tells the story of a former special forces soldier named Roy (Frank Grillo) who is trapped in a time loop in which he keeps re-experiencing his own death. The whole movie is an endless stretch of fighting off well-trained assassins sent to destroy him. However, the movie is not just a prolonged action scene, the repetition serves as a time-out to reflect on the protagonist’s role as a father and a husband and a ticket to the betterment of his life in general.
3 Final Girls (2015)
Final Girls is an American comedy horror movie that has its own way of presenting the time loop genre by creating a special remake of the slasher genre. After the death of her mother, Max is magically transported into the fictional world of “Camp Bloodbath,” a horror movie her late starring her late mother set in the 1980s. With a group of high school friends, she keeps reliving the movie and trying to escape from the grip of a raging murderer. Final Girls won the Audience Award for Feature Film in 2015 and received high praise from critics and audiences alike.
2 Looper (2012)
Looper is an action movie that has a unique take on the assassin genre. It features a dystopian future in which time travel exists but is used as a means to eliminate people. Joe, the main character, is a hitman, in other words, a contract killer who works for a criminal organization. He gets sent back in time by his employers in order to kill a target. In an unexpected twist, he finds out that the target he was supposed to kill is his past self.
As Joe is trying to survive, he jumps from one-time frame to another to warn and guide his past self. The movie is a beautiful exploration of the time travel concept and how it ties in with free will, identity, and the law of cause and consequence.
1 Groundhog Day (1993)
Groundhog Day is a 1993 comedy that practically created the time-loop film subgenre. Many of the formulas that the previous films on this list use originated and were perfected here. The story of one man’s attempt to break through a time loop on a day meant to signify change, he himself will need to learn to change and be a better person. This Bill Murray-led comedy is a timeless classic and one that continues to entertain audiences after all these years.