Happy Death Day

  • Directed by Christopher B. Landon
  • Starring Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine
  • Rated PG-13
3.5 pulses

Whoa, where did this shockingly good horror/comedy come from? When I saw the trailer for Happy Death Day, I did not have very high expectations. It looked like one gimmick (the Groundhog Day trope of reliving a day over and over again) with a lot of jokes that appealed to frat bros, and that was about it. But wow, did this movie deliver! While yes, it is just a gimmick, and while yes, there are a lot of jokes that appealed to frat bros, there’s still a lot to like here. Look. It’s a stupid movie. I’m not gonna say otherwise. But it’s a stupid movie that I had an absolute blast watching.

The film is anchored by Jessica Rothe (making her feature debut as a lead) as Tree. (Tree? That’s the name we’re going with for the main character? . . . though if your real name is Tree, I salute you) Rothe is excellent here in the lead role, as she might as well be a real-life sorority sister. And her character is great. Tree is not your standard damsel in distress. She is definitely a power lead that can take anything sent her way. She isn’t even all that likable. But you can’t help but love her and feel for her as she experiences all these traumatic events/deaths over and over again. Equally charming is another relative newcomer, Israel Broussard. He plays Carter, the guy Tree wakes up to every morning. I found myself rooting for him by the end of the movie, and that doesn’t often happen.

I know the movie is playing me like a fiddle but I don’t care; it hit all the right notes at exactly the right time. And I did not see the final twist coming, believe it or not. It was a good twist. There are definitely some plot holes here, but who cares? You’re not here to analyze, you’re here to have fun!

There’s not a whole lot else going on with this movie. The set design, score and cinematography were all B-movie level, which is totally fine for this film. Most of the costumes were . . . whatever, but that pig mask is creepy—what a great costume choice. The killer, overall, is pretty awesome: a faceless, voiceless terror, and it’s pretty darn creepy.

It’s hard to talk about a lot of the problems with this movie without throwing in spoilers, but there’s about 20 minutes of Happy Death Day that are just straight fluff right around the start of the third act. This is a problem when the film is only 96 minutes long. Let’s just say the film sets up a certain character arc, and it makes a big deal about said character arc just to go, “Nope! Just kidding!” Also, this film’s rules are kind of confusing. As in there are no rules. Tree keeps reliving the same day over and over but each time she wakes up she’s a bit weaker for some reason, and then we never understand why she’s given the ability to relive this day in the first place. Because that’s not an important question or anything, right? Also, when the villain is revealed . . . it’s a good twist, but was that person really capable of some of the crazy deaths we saw? I say no, but who cares?

Ultimately, if you like horror or slasher films, Happy Death Day is well worth a watch. However, it falls apart the second you try to analyze it. So just go see it, have a good time, and leave it at that.


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Read more of Joseph Kathmann’s reviews at Enter the Movies

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