Happy Death Day: Film Review
Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine
Director: Christopher Landon
Mixing Mean Girls, Groundhog Day, Scream and Scooby Doo, Happy Death Day's sorority set horror is more comedy and dumb jock humour than anything else.
La La Land's Jessica Rothe plays Tre, a botch of a sorority sister who wakes up one morning to a walk of shame in the dorm room of Broussard's Carter. Sidling back to her house and elite clique of bitches, Tre's day is spent avoiding her birthday. But at the end of the day, she winds up being killed by a tracksuited killer in a chubby baby face mask.
Only she wakes up the next morning to find she has to endure it all again...
Happy Death Day plays fast and loose with its Goundhog Day premise, and even riffs on the fact most of its target audience would never have seen the film before in its final moments.
But while the first 40 minutes or so feel fresh and relatively carefree in their execution - thanks in large part to Rothe's affable sorority sister whose arc of redemption is obvious from the start - the film can't quite decide on a tone, moving from drama to comedy and between bloodless horror.
The end result, complete with its unmasking of the killer, feels like an episode of Scooby Doo, where the bad guy would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for the oh-so-obvious arc of the protagonist.
It'll probably hit with its target audience of teens and the bat-em out low, box office them high Blumhouse effect is likely to strike again (though possibly with limited effect), but given how bloodless and derivative the film is of its tropes and genre, it loses its breeziness midway through proceedings.
Its live, die, repeat ethos and wannabe Buffy lead (even down to a tooling up montage toward the end) make it all feel oddly familiar. Coupled with Happy Death Day's desire to defy its own internal logic and ramp up the increasingly daft situations and reaction, the film loses any execution of its own admittedly original premise and consequently appeal.