REVIEW: Happy Death Day
Directed by Christopher J. Gordon
By Christopher Spencer
Directed by Christopher J. Gordon, Happy Death Day stars Jessica Rothe and Israel Broussard in the latest horror outing from Jason Blum and Blumhouse Productions. In this slasher version of Groundhog Day, Tree (Rothe) is living the same day over and over again: the day of her death. She is continuously killed in the same day by a masked killer, and must use the time loop she’s stuck in and her friend Carter (Broussard) to solve who is killing her and why.
The trailers for this movie honestly looked god-awful, making it all feel like some cheap, Final Destination lookalike that’ll be poorly made and woefully acted like other terrible horror movies this year (see: The Bye Bye Man, Wish Upon, Rings). But guess what: Happy Death Day is a load of fun.
Is it dumb? Yes. The time loop is never explained and is less of the lesson-learning, comic backdrop used in Groundhog Day and is more of a gimmick. We do get that idea of learning what you’re really like once you see yourself go through everything over and over again, but that’s all slow and predictable.
What makes Happy Death Day work is the comedy. The repeating scenarios that Tree faces herself in and how she embraces the ridiculous people around her makes for some truly hilarious scenes. The movie throws in a few jump-scares just to fit in that “slasher” genre title, but this is more of a fun thriller that you laugh at and actually root for the main character.
I recognised no-one in this movie but was consistently surprised with the performances from Rothe and Broussard. They will definitely get more work after this and they deserve it for making the silly dialogue and nonsense plot actually seem to work.
Happy Death Day is not the best movie I’ve seen this year by far, but it just might be one of the most fun times I’ve had in the year. Go in with no expectations and you will find yourself consistently surprised at the performances, humour and how much you actually end up caring about what’s going on. It’s a sub-par Groundhog Day/Edge of Tomorrow/that Huey, Dewey and Louie story from Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas, but Happy Death Day is well-shot, well-made and might make you want to see it again. And again.