Written by J. Weagle
From the trailers Happy Death Day, the newest release from Blumhouse and director Christopher Landon (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse) looked like an interesting horror spin on the premise of the early 1990’s comedy Groundhog Day. The final result falls somewhere between that and a CW television show aimed at quirky teens, and while not a complete waste of time, the premise doesn’t live up to its potential.
Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) is a complete bitch of a college girl who belongs to some bitchy sorority who wakes up on her birthday in some strange boys dorm after a long night of partying. At the end of the day she is murdered by a knife wielding killer dawning a mask of the schools mascot. Sounds familiar? Well the new element here is that when she dies she wakes up the same way as before, reliving the same exact day over and over, right down to the smallest of details. She learns that she must use each day to not only figure out who her killer is but ultimately what their motives are, and since she’s such an unlikable character, the list of reasons are long. As she does this she will discover her faults along the way and try to become a better person if she can escape the endless loop.
Overall the acting isn’t terrible per say but it does fall in line with what you’d expect. Jessica Rothe does a decent job as the mean girl slowly turning good, and is hands down the most interesting aspect of the entire thing since the film comes off more character study than anything else. No one else stands out however, everyone just sort of plays their part as the annoying teenage character, bitchy popular girl, charming nice guy, etc.
The biggest disappointment for me was the plot. I wasn’t expecting to be blown away from it, but the trailers had me believe that surely there would be some interesting twist that might attempt to catch me off guard and turn the entire plot upside down. In the end, I am sad to say that it plays out pretty much exactly how you’d expect it to. There is an inadequate attempt at a twist near the end but anyone who didn’t see it coming would have to not be paying attention to the film, because it is more than obvious.
It’s clear that I am not the target demographic for Happy Death Day, but I’m not sure this film will even satisfy the teens it is so blatantly chasing after. There are a few low brow jokes scattered here and there that made me chuckle but even as a horror comedy it falls too flat because of its PG13 rating. I’m not usually one to whine about a films rating, because I’m a strong believer that not every horror film needs buckets of gore. With that being said, not having the blood and guts in a movie that continuously glorifies the humorous death of its lead actress over and over makes the film lose a lot of comedy points. Heightened, exaggerated deaths not unlike the Final Destination series, would probably elevate this film to cult film status and help it gain a wider audience. That’s not the film Happy Death Day is trying to be however, and because of that, along with a disappointing premise, it fails to be anything more than a forgettable slasher with a message that one should not be an asshole.