Happy Death Day

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Jessica Rothe in a scene from "Happy Death Day." (AP)
Jessica Rothe in a scene from "Happy Death Day." (AP)


Happy Death Day


3/5 Stars


A college student relives the day of her murder, again and again—with both its unexceptional details and its terrifying end—until she discovers her killer’s identity.


These days horror production house Blumhouse is keeps churning out some hits, from the jawdroppingly amazing Get Out to M Night Shyamalan’s comeback Split. Their low budget offerings are doing well at the box office, and Happy Death Day seems like another hit in the US for this fear factory.

Its premise is very simple and although not anything new, it’s comedic element is just enough to edge it above your usual low-budget horror. It doesn’t resemble the masterpiece that is It, but it has enough appeal to draw a young audience that’s not necessarily into the slasher genre.
However, I can’t get over the fact that main character’s name is Tree. And no, it does not appear to be a nickname.

The weirdly named Tree (Jessica Rothe) starts reliving her birthday over and over in true Groundhog Day style every time she is murdered by some unknown assailant. The closer she gets to unmask her murderer, the more she realises how much of a jerk she truly is.

If you like the slasher genre and comedic versions like Scream Queens and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, you would enjoy yet another rendition of rewinding your day, with more death and teenage angst. It’s silly, but not the satire levels of films like the Scary Movie franchise, and its likeability stems from a great casting choice in Rothe. She’s one mean cookie but the kind that you can laugh at, and although she goes through the usual ‘oh I must change my ways’ development, she retains that nastiness – the just directs her sass towards those more deserving. To sum up she’s cool, but nothing you haven’t really seen before.

In terms of the knife-loving killer, props to the prop guy who designed that nightmarish baby mask. It’s the same person who designed the famous mask from Scream, so he knows how to bring horror to life. However the repetitive killing ends up killing the killer’s ominous persona, and has to keep the audience enthralled with cheap jump scares. Luckily the film recovers the mundane murderer once you discover who is underneath the creepy baby face, and makes for an unusual twist.

Be warned though if you’re looking for a truly terrifying horror – Happy Death Day is more like a family-friendly slasher preteens watch while their parents are asleep, and it might be especially bland if you have recently seen the terrify-in-your-soul IT. It does remain a fun watch and an easy movie for a group date when no one can agree on which movie to watch. It’s got a cute guy, a hot sass-tastic sorority girl, and a baby mask killer that might make you gasp without giving you nightmares.

Still, the fact that someone might be called Tree could leave you shook for life.


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