Combining the concept of reliving your own death from Edge of Tomorrow, with the 90s Slasher vibe from movies such as Scream, Happy Death Day is one of the most interesting concepts to be put to film this year, and a perfect treat for Halloween!
Jessica Rothe plays Tree Gelbman, your typical run of the mill college student, who after a rough night out, wakes up in a dorm room, unaware of the events of the night before. As we are shown, Tree isn’t exactly the nicest of people, with her arrogant and dismissive seniority sister demeanor, she builds up a firm following of enemies on campus. This proves to be fatal, as that night, Tree runs into a masked stalker, who takes her life with the assistance of a very big blade. But all is not as it seems! Following her death, she wakes up back in the dorm room from earlier that morning. She soon realizes she is trapped sort of time loop, in which her death is inevitable every night. Accepting her looming fate, Tree uses the time she has, to narrow down the culprit from her list of suspects!
Though Happy Death Day has been built up as the return of the Slasher movie, it’s still no where near the sheer intensity of Scream. Yes, there’s a masked stalker, who happens to get very trigger happy with a knife in their hand. But here, our murders are a lot less graphic as films in this genre were , especially back in the 90s! Although it has a horror element to it, it is far more of a mystery movie, rather than a full on scare, so just a few tips to consider before walking into the cinema!
That said, HDD is a thoroughly enjoyable movie, yes you have all the usual american college stereotypes here, the bitchy mean girls, the stalker, the geek etc., but it never hurts the film. Tree is by far the standout character in the movie, her comedic chops are on show here, bringing several moments of laughter to the show. Her character also has an engaging arch, from her ignorant past self, to a more modest and understanding person she eventually becomes.
As mentioned, we have a list of suspects, who each may have a reason to don the eerie mask and go after our protagonist. Could it be Carter (Israel Broussard), the timid student’s dorm in which Tree wakes up in? Or maybe it’s Danielle (Rachel Matthews), the sorority leader, who is somewhat envious of Tree? Then again, it has to be the teacher she is having an affair with right? There are plenty suspects thrown in the mix to keep you doubts swinging between all our various potential killers!
Though the biggest flaw in the film has to be the very lazy explanation regarding the real killer, their motivation and how they did some of the murders. It’s a long stretch to believe someone would go straight to a blood thirsty killer on campus! Would they really leave a random toy playing a melody in a tunnel? It would make more sense for them to just get straight to the act, without all these curious actions. The plot seems to try to make itself look a lot more smarter than it really had to be, with the lat addition of a suspect which shows up from no where. There are also several plot points left unsolved, it it just being careless, or resolutions being saved for a potential sequel?
With far more humour than you would think, HDD is a great concept, that utilizes its college setting very well, it may not be the perfect Halloween movie, but it has it’s moments of suspense, a vibrant cast, and dead cert to leave you satisfied once the credits roll.