Happy Death Day is the new horror film from the director of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and stars Jessica Rothe as Teresa, a college student whose birthday begins with her waking up in a dorm room and being greeted by a student who she presumably slept with the night prior.
As she walks out of the building, a sprinkler turns on, a car alarm goes off, and a student faints during a drinking game. Her roommate gives her a cupcake, to which she throws out, and another sorority member tells her not to be late for a party that night. However, when she’s walking to the party, she stumbles upon a music box playing “Happy Birthday” and then is cornered by a figure wearing a baby mask, the school mascot. She tries to escape, but is murdered, and wakes up in the exact same position she was earlier. She finds that whenever she dies, she wakes up on the same day. She must now utilize this occurrence to find out the identity of her killer.
Now, I remember seeing the trailer for this film a few months back, and I can distinctly remember how I felt. I did not feel like this would be entertaining, fun, or worth my time. However, I’m pleasantly surprised with this film. It’s more than I hoped for, which may be why I liked it, and it truly takes the Groundhog Day premise and puts its own little spin on it. Quite well, actually.
It’s not without its problems, however. For one, there are plenty of genre tropes that show up in Happy Death Day. With films like this, I have a tendency to think of multiple ways the main conflict could be resolved. Right off the bat, I thought of a way to catch the killer, and it bugged me throughout the film that Teresa didn’t do that one thing. However, once the identity of the killer was revealed, it made a lot more sense why everything was playing a certain way. Smart decision on the writer’s part. I definitely didn’t see the ending twist coming.
The film itself is really enjoyable. I think that the killer could’ve been given more motive, but it all works out fine in the end. Like mentioned before, there are a lot of clichéd parts, but it isn’t a bad film in the slightest. It has its moments. All of the scenes are fast-paced, and it also helps that the film isn’t overly long and doesn’t become overly tedious thanks to length. In fact, the film was short enough that I and my friend didn’t even finish our popcorn before the credits rolled.
The acting is relatively good, while I’ve seen better in horror films. I get that the film isn’t really meant to be taken seriously. Honestly, it’s more of a horror-comedy than a flat-out fright fest. However, that’s no excuse for lazy acting and writing. There were some moments where I was thinking to myself “this is the best they can do?”.
If you’re looking for a fun, weird, and interesting popcorn flick, go see this movie. It’s all of those things, and it has a creepy-ass baby mask on top of that. However, if you want a more psychological horror experience with more to offer, this probably isn’t for you. Personally, I enjoyed it and I’m going to give it a B, but like I said, it isn’t for everyone.
Happy Death Day stars Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews, Charles Aitken, Rob Mello. Directed by Christopher B. Landon.
Closing Note: I really enjoyed the Universal logo variation for this film. It stops a few seconds in and starts back up again. It was a great way of setting up the story for this movie, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.