Birthdays are suppose to be a time for celebration. For Tree, it’s the day she’s murdered. Only to find herself waking up on the same morning, forced to relive the day again – which means dying again. Happy Death Day misses the mark in the scare department, somehow avoiding gore or any real frights, instead relishing in the ridiculousness of the entire thing. And while it won’t rank high on the list of horror films released this year, it still manages to leave you entertained.
Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) is your stereotypical, self-absorbed sorority girl. She wakes up in the dorm room of Carter (Israel Broussard) after a hard night of partying. After escaping the awkwardness of the “morning after”, she goes about her day like she would any other, despite it being her birthday. That night Tree walks alone to a party on campus, and soon finds herself stalked by someone wearing a mask. Assuming it’s a pathetic joke at first and laughing it off, she quickly realizes she’s in real danger.
When she’s stabbed, she wakes up on that same morning, once again in Carter’s bed. Thinking it to be an odd case of intense déjà vu, she continues her day similar to how it went before. When she begins her walk alone, she sees that it’s eerily too familiar and changes direction, making it safely to the party. However, the masked villain finds her anyways and once again succeeds in killing her. And once again she wakes up with Carter. After convincing him the day is repeating, he encourages her to use it to her advantage and solve her own murder.
Very reminiscent of 90’s slasher films, directer Christopher B. Landon and writer Scott Lobdell created a twisted Groundhog Day, with a hint of Scream 2. Jessica Rothe is our “final girl” who, despite still dying at the end of each day, is a tough chick. She utilizes the loop to cancel out her suspects and coordinate her defenses. Hoping that killing her own killer, or simply surviving throughout the night, will put an end to the continuous loop – which is making her weaker each time.
While it’s not entirely scary, the film itself was fun and fairly entertaining. The most glaring negative being our killer’s mask, which doesn’t exactly strike any fear. While Ghostface had an iconic, spooky mask, this one just doesn’t pack the same punch. Perhaps they just didn’t care to set up a solid villain given that this slasher film doesn’t intend to be a franchise. It’s very much a one time show. Which is a bit refreshing in a world of sequels and prequels.
It’s a good film for those in the PG-13 range to have a funny slasher flick to enjoy this Halloween season. Though it may not haunt you at night, it at least builds a solid story and characters, making it worth the watch.
Happy Death Day hits theaters this Friday, October 13th