Happy Death Day (2017)

happy death day poster 2017 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Creative take on Groundhog's Day, fun and light

Rehash of Groundhog's Day with horror

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Happy Death Day

Studio:  Blumhouse Productions

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  October 13, 2017

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

happy death day killer

The face of death

Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) is having a hard birthday…or birthdays.  While walking home she is murdered, Tree finds herself reliving the day over and over again.  Now, she must die night after night and the only way to stop the cycle might be to find the killer.  It’s Tree’s birthday and it could be the day that changes everything.

Directed by Christopher B. Landon, Happy Death Day is a horror comedy.  The film received positive reviews and a big box office return.

Happy Death Day looked entirely opportunistic.  The movie looked like a blatant rip-off of Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day and the similarities couldn’t be ignored.  While this eventually was addressed directly in the film, Happy Death Day is an enjoyable romp regardless of the similarities.

happy death day killer tree jessica rothe

No way a guy would witness an assault on a college campus and do nothing (sarcasm)

The movie is a horror comedy but in the vein of Scream.  There is enough horror in Happy Death Day to be enjoyed by people who like horror and enough comedy to keep it light and fluffy.  Happy Death Day was a surprisingly fun film.  Due to aspects of the story, a ******spoiler alert****** exists for the rest of the review.

Much like I would be, Tree quickly gets what happening and actually make an effort to alter the events of the day.  She doesn’t go to her party, she doesn’t enter the tunnel, and the murders still keeps happening.  This doesn’t entirely make sense until the ending which reveals that it isn’t a random killer and Lori who is specifically targeting her.  The movie gives up the red herring a bit too early with a TV report of John Tombs (things don’t happen randomly in scripts).  It of course leads to a last minute twist, but the twist is still done cleverly (after an homage to Sixteen Candles).

happy death day tree carter sixteen candles jessica rothe israel broussard

Wish for the day to end

The cast is typical of mid-’90s horror comedies.  Jessica Rothe is a solid lead and does a good job, but nothing really distinguishes her.  Her biggest benefit is that the story is written around an unlikable character who becomes likable by the end.  The rest of the cast really is generic and unremarkable straight down to the “psycho killer” played by Rob Mello.

The film has solid editing and plays with the idea of the repeating days.  With each day causing Tree damage, it can’t be as many repeats as Groundhog’s Day, but the repeating events and how Tree deals with them still provides fun.

Happy Death Day is a bit odd in that it almost feels like Tree is the first victim of a serial killer.  In horror movies, that victim gets no backstory or redemption.  Here it is all about the first victim and her story…and the victim gets the rare chance for revenge.  The film also confronts the elephant in the room in the last minute by outright referencing Bill Murray and Groundhog’s Day which by that point doesn’t feel necessary.  Happy Death Day was followed by Happy Death Day 2U in 2019.

Related Links:

Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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