Happy Death Day
Every negative review for this movie is going to point out that this movie is built around a concept that we’ve seen before. Our protagonist is forced to live through the same day again and again.
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Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow (both excellent movies) made this idea popular and for some people, they won’t be able to get past the fact that this isn’t brand new gimmick. I don’t have a problem if movies borrow from other movies, they just need to do it effectively and put a fresh spin on it.
Happy Death Day certainly accomplishes that. At the beginning, the journey hits the first couple of familiar notes but when Tree starts to realize what’s happening, that’s when the movie shifts gears. They aren’t afraid to play with Tree’s tragic end day after day and the movie functions for whole periods as a straight comedy.
Luckily, this movie is really funny when it wants to be. The writers know enough to play with certain genre clichés and there’s a surprising amount of tongue-in-cheek humour here. The marketing for this is a little misleading, it makes this movie look like a traditional slasher movie when it really ends up being a mishmash of comedy, mystery and horror
Other than the living the same day plot point, Happy Death Day centres around the mystery of who Tree’s killer is. The movie throws a bunch of obvious red herrings at you right off the bat and I was glad they took it a less obvious direction.
I don’t think they overplay their hand either, there are a couple of hints here and there but I think you’d have to be pretty perceptive to guess the twists and turns that Day’s plot takes. If I had one complaint, there was a point where they looked like they were heading towards a very sentimental resolution that could have been corny.
Its a case of me wanting that for these characters. They bypass that though and keep going and while I understand the decision, I might have preferred that wrap-up instead.
Another turnoff for certain audience members might be Tree’s personality as a character. She’s a real b!#@% when we first meet her and I’m not exaggerating. The first time she meets her killer, I wasn’t feeling sorry for her.
But even when she’s at her worst, she still has a certain charisma that you want to keep rooting for her. Writing characters that aren’t perfect and are selfish that you want to follow is an art that so many horror movies get wrong. I liked how Tree grows (no pun intended) and by the end I really wanted her to find a happy ending somehow.
I don’t often get to really discover actors and actresses. Most of the movies I watch are pretty mainstream and by the time someone becomes a lead, you’ve probably heard about them from somewhere.
I wasn’t familiar with Jessica Rothe at all but she anchored this movie as Tree. This is a stand up and take notice kind of performance, she’s multi-faceted in handling both the drama and the comedy in this movie. I hope this movie is just a stepping stone to bigger things for her and I think the last time I walked away from a movie so impressed with an actress I didn’t know was Margot Robbie in The Wolf of Wall Street.
Israel Broussard is easy to like as Carter, he’s easy going enough that his character’s relationship with Tree builds up organically. Rachel Matthews is funny as Danielle Bouseman, she’s playing a very stereotypical character (stuck up sorority rich girl) but she nails it. Ruby Modine is sweet as Lori and Charles Aitken is appropriately slimy as Gregory Butler,
I couldn’t believe how charmed I was by this movie. I didn’t plan on going to see this, it was a very spur of the moment thing and walking out of the theatre I was blown away. Happy Death Day isn’t the best movie I’ve seen this year but its the biggest movie-going surprise of the year for me.
It features a great turn from an up and coming actress, a good mystery, some well placed meta humour and a willingness to play within its central conceit. The marketing for this movie doesn’t show how creative and fun it is and I would urge you to give this a shot.
We’ve come off the summer blockbusters and we’re still too early for the awards contenders so if you’re looking for something to check out, Happy Death Day is an extremely fun hour and a half at the movies. Also, make sure to show up on time, there’s a gag pulled with the opening credits that hints at what’s to come.