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‘100 Days to Live’: Chicagoans go mysteriously missing in director’s impressive debut

Suicide prevention a running theme throughout the small, slick psychological thriller.

Rebecca (Heidi Johanningmeier) is on guard after her fiance goes missing in “100 Days to Live.”
Cinedigm

In a park along Chicago’s lakefront, a young woman is stretching on a yoga mat — and then she’s gone, disappearing in broad daylight.

At a neighborhood diner near some railroad tracks, a recently engaged young man tells his fiancé he’ll be right back and he steps outside for a smoke — and never returns.

In Millennium Park, a middle-aged woman is enjoying the beautiful day and the idyllic scenery — and that’s the last anyone sees of her.

Someone is snatching people from the streets of Chicago, each time leaving an ornate photo album with a cover naming the victim and a proclaiming their salvation, e.g., “Tanya Was Saved.”

This is the intriguing premise of the filmed-in-Chicago psychological thriller “100 Days to Live.” Although sometimes convoluted and occasionally implausible, this is a well-filmed and ambitiously creative first effort from writer-producer-director Ravin Gandhi, an entrepreneur and the CEO of GMM Nonstick Coatings, which is not your typical resume for an aspiring filmmaker but kudos to Gandhi for following his movie dreams and turning in an impressive debut.

Options trader Gabriel (Colin Egglesfield) is gone and may be a victim of a serial kidnapper.
Cinedigm

Heidi Johanningmeier turns in an empathetic performance as Rebecca Church, who runs a suicide support group in Chicago and has recently become engaged to Gabriel (Colin Egglesfield), a highly successful options trader who has a troubled past, as does Rebecca and just about every other major character in this film. (With character names such as “Church” and “Gabriel,” the spiritual symbolism isn’t always the most subtle.) In flashback sequences, we learn the back story of one Victor Quinn (Gideon Emery, who has the intense angular visage of Hugh Jackman crossed with Willem Dafoe), who worked with Rebecca manning the phones for a suicide prevention hotline but took it upon himself to get personally involved in trying to save callers, at one point even racing to a young woman’s home to literally stop her from hanging herself. So began Victor’s descent into becoming a delusional psychopath with a savior complex.

Victor (Gideon Emery) took his work on a suicide prevent hotline too far.
Cinedigm

Writer-director Gandhi does an admirable job of toggling back and forth between timelines, with changing points of view filling us in on the stunning back stories of Rebecca and Gabriel, who has gone missing and is presumably the serial kidnapper/killer’s most recent victim. Meanwhile, Chicago Police Detective Jack Byers (Yancey Arias) strikes up a friendship with Rebecca as he simultaneously leads the investigation while personally protecting Rebecca.

The theme of suicide is a constant running through “100 Days to Live,” with the title offering a hint about a kind of devil’s bargain entered into by many characters. The subject matter is handled with respect and care, but it’s also the launching point for a small but slick thriller and it might be tough to watch by those whose lives have been impacted by suicide, whether they’ve had suicidal thoughts or have lost a loved one to suicide. As the story races to the finish line, we run into a few plot holes along the way, but thanks to the densely packed screenplay and the sharp performances by Johanningmeier, Egglesfield and Emery, “100 Days to Live” keeps us in its grips throughout.