Happy Death Day (2017) – Film Review
Director: Christopher B Landon
Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine
by Roger Crow
This is one of the most derivative horror films I’ve seen in some time. Writer Scott Lobdell takes a large chunk of Groundhog Day, adds a splash of Final Destination, a huge dollop of Mean Girls and a bucket full of Scream. Blends, heats and serves.
It sees a frat girl caught in a time loop on her birthday, and every time she gets killed by a mysterious figure in a baby mask, the whole thing re-sets and she has to figure out who is killing her on a daily or indeed birthday-ly basis.
However, thanks to the premise, and the fact the viewer is caught in this format of relatively short sharp shocks over and over again, it’s very easy to get drawn into the story. It also helps that the filmmakers are not taking themselves too seriously, are well aware that they are taking the premise of one of the greatest comedies of all time, and subverting it.
“Well-worn genre tropes”
They know they’re doing it and also know that we know they’re doing it. So having set out their stall, by half-time they start to have a lot of fun with the story.
La La Land veteran Jessica Rothe is the improbably named Tree, a beautiful, slightly ditzy college girl who wakes up in bed of a fellow student, instantly regrets her decision, runs into his slightly offensive mate, and then proceeds to pass the same people before being killed.
So far, so ‘I Got You Babe’.
The well-worn genre tropes (masked serial killer, spooky underpasses) are just window dressing. As the movie plays out and our long-suffering heroine gets closer to solving the mystery, the third act features a nice twist that closes things nicely.
“Sending up hundreds of horror thrillers”
Yes, it’s silly, unoriginal and lightweight, but like the Scream saga before it, has a fine time sending up the hundreds of horror thrillers most of us have seen countless times.
Roche is a likeable heroine, it looks terrific (made for less than $5m), and given the huge box office returns, I’m not surprised a sequel is in the offing.
On the strength of this, that’s not too terrifying a prospect.