Tree with Babyface behind her in the second cycle

Review: Happy Death Day

Director(s)Christopher Landon
Principal CastJessica Rothe as Tree
Israel Broussard as Carter
Release Date 2017
Running Time96 minutes

Groundhog’s day meets teen-comedy meets slasher movie –Happy Death Day isn’t incredibly original, but what it lacks in creativity it makes up in unabashed fun. The story follows Tree, a troubled sorority girl who finds herself trapped in a sinister loop that restarts every time she’s killed by a baby masked killer. As she desperately tries to figure out who’s coming for her she’s forced to confront her fears – both physical and emotional.

If there’s one reason to watch this movie, it’s Jessica Rothe’s performance. She gives the story a real personality which keeps it feeling spunky and fresh as opposed to tired and outdated. She’s rude, unresponsive, and miserable with herself and everyone around her. Watching her slowly come to realize her situation and adapt is charming because of how expressive and energetic Rothe acts. She sells the story and is why I enjoy the movie so much despite how predictable its story beats feel.

The way the story unfolds is logical and makes sense. The identity of the killer is only revealed to attentive viewers at the hour mark because up till then the misdirection is done fairly well. I was particularly impressed with how layered the second “cycle” was in both story setup and character interaction. The movie knows when to switch it up so the story never feels like it overstays its welcome.

Unfortunately, nothing “interesting” really happens. The story doesn’t really add too much to the die-live again formula. There’s a unique addition that never gets developed a lot, but it plays it by the books which feels like a mixed opportunity. I wish the concept was incorporated with the horror element better. It feels like a psychological twist is missing that could have really elevated some scenes. Furthermore, outside of Tree, every character is kind of one note and uninteresting. They’re fine for the sake of the story – filling in easily identifiable character positions- but don’t do anything outside of that.

Report Card

TLDRHappy Death Day is funny, filled with energy, and has some cute “awuhh” moments. It doesn’t fully utilize the potential of its premise, but it does enough to remain interesting from beginning to end.
Grade C+

Go to Page 2 for my spoiler-full thoughts!

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