In Happy Death Day, a college coed (Jessica Rothe) must relive the day of her death on repeat until she discovers the identity of her killer.
My chief concern going into Happy Death Day was that films featuring a time loop can easily devolve into something repetitive and mundane. I’ve sat through a lot of features that use this device and spent more time looking at my watch than the screen. But, I’m pleased to say that there is enough variety and diversity in the storyline to keep things fresh and keep the viewer on his or her toes.
Happy Death Day may not be wholly original. In fact, a lot of the ideas in the film are reminiscent of other features. But it works. It takes inspiration from well-loved movies and puts its own spin on them. It’s as if director Christopher Landon took the skeletal outline of Groundhog Day, populated it with characters from Mean Girls, and then added in a murder plot. It sounds like it shouldn’t work and maybe it shouldn’t. But it does.
The film works well largely because it has a great cast. Jessica Rothe (Parallels) is perfect in the lead role. Her character Theresa could easily have been two-dimensional and unconvincing. But Rothe brings her to life and sells the audience on her transition from vapid sorority girl to human being. Israel Broussard (Extinction) is also perfectly cast as Carter. He’s lovable and witty and he offers balance to Theresa’s highs and lows. Not to mention, Rachel Matthews really shines in her screen debut as the wicked Danielle.
While Happy Death Day is a little lighter on scares than it is on chuckles, there are still quite a few jump-inducing sequences that help the film walk the line between horror and comedy.
Perhaps what I liked most about Happy Death Day is that it will appeal to horror fans as well as the non-inducted. I took my husband (who doesn’t usually like horror movies) to the screening and he thoroughly enjoyed it. There’s something for (almost) everyone to enjoy here. Sure, it’s not particularly bloody, but it doesn’t need to be. A little bit of splatter is always a welcome addition, but in this case, it wouldn’t have made for a better film.
My main criticism of Happy Death Day is that when we learn the identity of the killer and their motivation is revealed, it’s a little weak and hard to swallow. But, that’s more than made up for by a variety of elements that do work well.
Happy Death Day is definitely one that should be on your radar. Get out this weekend and support theatrical horror. The film will enjoy a theatrical bow on Friday, October 13th, 2017. In the meantime, you can check out the trailer right here.
WICKED RATING: 7/10
Director(s): Christopher Landon
Writer(s): Scott Lobdell
Stars: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, and Rachel Matthews
Release: October 13, 2017
Studio/ Production Co: Blumhouse, Universal
Budget: $5 Million (estimated)
Sub-Genre: Time loop, Slasher, Horror comedy