With a movie like Happy Death Day, it’s very easy to see how the movie was sold. It’s an incredibly simple pitch: Groundhog Day meets a slasher film. But what you wouldn’t expect? How well it executes what is, ultimately, a very basic twist on an existing formula.
Our lead is Tree (short for Theresa, apparently?) It’s Monday the 18th, her birthday, and she – a sorority girl – has woken up in the bedroom of a guy she doesn’t remember spending the night with. Hung over, she does the walk of shame back to her sorority house, goes about her day, heads to a party for the evening…and on her way there, is murdered by a psychopath in a baby mask.
You know, an average day.
The weird thing, though? Once murdered – she wakes up…and the day repeats, again, and again.
Happy Death Day is the latest film from producer Jason Blum, whose Blumhouse Productions company specializes in horror movies on the cheap. They brought us the Paranormal Activity franchise, The Purge, even this year’s incredible Get Out. In turn, it’s clever to see them turn the average slasher film on it’s head. With director Christopher B. Landon (best known for the Paranormal Activity sequels) behind the lens, and a script from Scott Lobdell (best known for writing countless X-Men comics), there’s a steady hand guiding the high-concept carrying the movie.
The movie which follows isn’t a particularly gory film, and much like a similar Groundhog Day alike, Edge of Tomorrow, uses the repeat mechanic as a place of humor. Sure, there are some nice jump scares, but you’ll be laughing more than you’ll be shrieking. What Happy Death Day really is, however, is a coming out party for lead Jessica Rothe. Best known before this as one of Emma Stone’s roommates in La La Land, Rothe carries the movie as she goes on her repetitive journey and learns quite a bit about her predicament along the way.
Happy Death Day isn’t going to win any awards, probably won’t last long in your memory, and isn’t the most original movie rendered to film, but what it delvers is 96 minutes of entertainment, and proves that Jessica Rothe is probably worth a bigger role in the future. If you’re looking for a fun film this Halloween season, Happy Death Day is it.