Happy Death Day (2017) Review

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Horror themes, violence, sexual references and coarse language
Jessica Rothe as Theresa “Tree” Gelbman
Israel Broussard as Carter Davis
Ruby Modine as Lori Spengler
Director: Christopher Landon

Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) is a blissfully self-centered collegian who wakes up on her birthday in the bed of a student named Carter (Israel Broussard). As the morning goes on, Tree gets the eerie feeling that she’s experienced the events of this day before. When a masked killer suddenly takes her life in a brutal attack, she once again magically wakes up in Carter’s dorm room unharmed. Now, the frightened young woman must relive the same day over and over until she figures out who murdered her.

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Happy Death Day was a movie I heard about for a while, I saw that it involved a masked killer and some time looping premise. However I just had no interest in it, so I never checked it out, or even looked into the reactions until recently. It turns out it was quite the surprise hit, and even successful enough to get a sequel released this year. So I decided to check out the first movie to see what all the fuss was about and I was surprised at how much I liked it.

Happy Death Day may have a familiar premise with the likes of Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow being about the main character reliving the same day again and again, but I’ve never actually seen it given to a horror movie (I could be wrong). The movie at least seems pretty self aware about how familiar the premise is, and it certainly helps that the movie is partially a comedy on top of it being a horror. Once the first loop happens, that’s when the movie really picks up and becomes quite entertaining, especially when our lead character tries to figure out who keeps killing her in every loop. The movie has some effective comedy throughout, especially when it comes to the time loops. Some of the twists are a little predictable, although mostly manages to stay away from being completely obvious so you are still on board with the story. One of the major twists towards the end however is something you can figure out pretty early on. The runtime is just over an hour and a half and that was a pretty good length, as I said after the first loop, that’s when it really picks up.

Part of what makes this movie so well was Jessica Rothe as the lead character, she played her part very well. She does well at conveying the horror that her character feels, but was also very effective at pulling off the comedy, really showing off quite a large range of emotions. There’s nothing to really say about the rest of the cast, they’re fine but generally they’re at the level of acting in most slasher/horror movies.

I’ve not watched any of Christopher Landon’s movies prior to this but his work here is pretty good. The movie never felt scary, horror movies in general don’t scare me and I know this movie is a bit of a comedy as well, but if it at any point was intending to be genuinely scary, I wasn’t creeped out at all. Most of the horror seems to come from the killer, and while that mask I guess looks a little creepy, it doesn’t really produce any real effective scares (however it’s a pretty simple yet memorable mask). Still, the killer was effective enough, and the kills were good for PG-13 standards, without feeling edited down heavily to fit the rating to get more people to see it in the cinema.

Happy Death Day was a lot better than I thought it would be. It’s not one of the best horror movies to come out in recent years or anything like that, but it’s an entertaining horror flick nonetheless, and I was pleasantly surprised at what we got. With the sequel Happy Death Day 2U released, I might need to get around to watching that as well, even though I’m not sure the sequel is really needed.

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