Happy Death Day
Directed By: Christopher Landon
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Charles Aitken, Laura Clifton
Run Time: 1h 36min
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
2 Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
Happy Death Day is produced by Jason Blum, who produced Purge, Ouija, The Gift, Split and much, much more, so no matter what, you know you’re in for some fun… that’s just what he does. And, yes! You read that right, it’s PG-13 so the horror is weak but the thrills are a payoff, once you get over what an awful person the main character Tree (Rothe) is. Jessica Rothe does a fairly good job of portraying the character so, it isn’t her acting, it’s that maybe she was too good because she’s such a bitch… you kinda want the killer to succeed in his efforts to rid the planet of this foul beast. She has friends who are as truly detestable as she! It takes an effort to wrap your head around the good guy, Carter (Broussard) ever wanting anything to do with her.
Our young, sorority girl heroine has found herself having Déjà vu issues. Every morning when she awakens, she finds it’s the same day… her birthday. Not only does she wake up to discover this reparative situation going on but at the end of her birthday, she is murdered in a new and horrific manner. If you feel you’re having Déjà vu, you’re not. This is very much the structure of the plotlines in the films Edge of Tomorrow, Before I Fall and, most notably, Groundhog Day. Happy Death Day is very aware of this and at the end of the film lets us know that loud and clear. What you can find pleasing in this movie is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and once you get beyond Tree finding out that she is repeating the same day over and over, you can more focus on how the day ends.
She is, as I mentioned previously, not a nice person and discovers this about herself while she’s looking for someone to help her and there are no true friends to turn to. Instead of friends, she is also waking up to the fact that what she’s finding instead is a new list of suspects. Tree becomes more and more likable as Carter becomes more of an influence. Knowing that you’ll be going through these days with her, you watch for the clues, you look for who it might be, but I’ll be honest… I didn’t see it. The ending, though a bit flimsy at times, was amusing. But I did find myself wanting to shout, ‘Come on! No one is going to be able to have their head bashed on the floor half a dozen times and walk away without a scratch!’ Continuity, guys! Little things like that, and a man throwing Tree against the wall with such ease, could eat away at you and spoil your full enjoyment of it all but I don’t think so. Is it a silly premise? Yes. Had this been a bit more of a fright, it would have been the perfect Friday the 13th release but I can’t say it was. Is it entertaining? Yes. If you haven’t seen Groundhog Day and the others listed, do… but check this one out, too. I don’t recommend seeing it this weekend at the theatre; best saved for home viewing but the mystery was there and you’ll have a blast with the absurdity of it all. I must say, however, that the waking up to the same day over and over loop gag should end here. I haven’t seen it in a big children’s movie yet so they could be next to give it a go but no more after that. It’s a bit tasking on the viewer.