If you ever hoped and prayed for a movie that was a cross between “Halloween” and “Groundhog Day” then you are in luck because that is just what Blumhouse gave us with “Happy Death Day“. Tree (Jessica Roethe, “La La Land“) is the typical college sorority girl, selfish and condescending to everyone even her fellow sisters. She parties too much and makes questionable decisions including going back to a strange guys dorm after a night of too many adult beverages. That is just how Tree starts the day…her special day…her birthday, when she wakes up in Carter’s (Israel Broussard, “Fear the Walking Dead“, “The Bling Ring“) dorm with no memory of how she got there, a serious hangover and her phone buzzing with a birthday message blaring from her phone. She rushes out of the room and back to her house meeting up with a guy she dated and several people she could care less about (they all become suspects in the end), Finally back in the house after a brief conversation with one of her sisters she gets back to her actual room where her roommate, Lori (Ruby Modine, “Shameless“) surprises her with a cupcake for her birthday, a day Tree would rather forget. Tree brushes off the very sweet gesture and we then follow her through her day where the idea that she is self-centered and oblivious to anyone else’s feelings becomes even more clear. After a long day of maintaining her bitchiness, she heads out to a party and on the way she meets up with a masked killer and a very large knife. Let the deja vu begin because the pattern repeats itself over and over until Tree can no longer take it and confides in Carter. Carter once he has been convinced comes up with a plan, what is this plan? Tree can keep dying until she figures out who keeps killing her and why? The list is long, but will Tree figure out who the killer is before her “Happy Death Day” runs out?
“Happy Death Day” takes a unique twist on the typical slasher film and mixes it with humor and many homages to the horror movies of the past (especially “Halloween“). Though the movie uses tried and true story arcs…the hero who needs to be redeemed, the female heroine who kicks butt, the killer who has a very superficial driving force (and wears a creepy mask) and a diverse assortment of methods of death…”Happy Death Day” still feels fresh. The story’s freshness could not have made as much of an impact if it had not been for the cast that executed the writers words with conviction and dedication. In particular the lead actress, Jessica Roethe, who gives her character Tree not only a heart but the edge to carry the redemption story laid out underneath the main story. “Happy Death Day’s” many scene homages to “Halloween” (if you are a horror movie fan you’ll know them when you see them) shows that both the director, Christopher Landon (“Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones“) and the writer, Scott Lobdell (“X-Men: Days of Future Past“), have a sincere love of the genre that is very much appreciated by those of us that have the same love.
“Happy Death Day” was a pleasant surprise for me because as usual I went in not expecting much and wound up seeing a fantastically fun horror film. Horror’s golden child, Blumhouse, has done it again! “Happy Death Day” is a horror movie that trades on the humorous element of a well told story and creates an experience that few horror films of the past couple of years has been able to. If what you are looking for is a fun horror movie with a tinge of humor then put your party hat on and get ready to celebrate a very “Happy Death Day“.