“Happy Death Day” stars Jessica Rothe as a college girl who is murdered on her birthday, only to wake up and realize she is reliving the same day on a loop. In order to break the cycle, she must find out who her killer is and stop her own murder. Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine and Rachel Matthews also star as Christopher Landon directs.
I’m not a huge scary movie guy, mostly because I just don’t get frightened by them very often so it’s a lot like not laughing at comedies. That being said, two of my favorite scary movies are “Scream” and “Disturbia;” their meta humor and slasher kills are a great time (director Landon wrote the latter film). So while “Death Day” isn’t going to rewrite the genre like “Scream” did 20 years ago, it is a fun time with just enough wit to overpower its more simplistic flaws.
A film like this really needs to just succeed at giving the audience a good time and at that it very much does the job. Jessica Rothe’s Theresa starts out snobby and short (my friend leaned over to me in the first 30 seconds and said “ugh she deserves to get stabbed”) but as the film goes on Theresa learns how to be a better person. Along the way, Rothe is able to keep the edge about her character, while showing some vulnerabilities and dark humor along the way.
The film’s masked killer is no Ghostface—kids won’t be wearing the one-toothed baby face for Halloween anytime soon—but it is unsettling enough to see standing at the end of a darkly lit tunnel or peep out from around the corner.
The film’s reveal and twists are simultaneously clever and dumb for reasons I won’t get into, but I guess just know that while the payoff likely isn’t as satisfying as one could hope, the film doubles-down on jumping the shark in the final act and I did appreciate that.
The reveal also throws continuity and plausibility out the window but in a film like this who cares?
There really isn’t much more to say about “Happy Death Day;” it’s just a fun time. It has some flashes of creativity and originality and others of basic horror film tropes but we can’t expect game-changers like “Scream” to come around all-too-often. If you thought the trailers to this film looked stupid [raises hand], trust me, the final product is a lot more satisfying than the cover suggested.
And just like our main character, I wouldn’t mind going through and experiencing it again.
Critics Rating: 7/10