Happy Death Day takes Groundhog Day and turns it into a halfway decent slasher flick that does what it can to not be repetitive with a plot built around being repetitive. The film follows Tree, a college student who finds herself reliving the day of her murder over and over until she discovers the identity of her killer. It is well directed by Christopher Landon (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse) and stars Jessica Rothe who delivers a very versatile performance as Tree, giving the film a lot of personality. Her versatility in this film blends really well with the versatility of the story, this could have been entirely paint by numbers and although it does follow a somewhat familiar structure it does what it can to avoid becoming predictable. The horror is there and effective for the most part, the dark comedy is also a pleasant addition and well integrated by Landon who brings his sense of humour from SGttZA. It takes a while to really get invested in the characters and plot so for the first third it’s a bit of a task to get through but after that it all starts to gradually grow on you.
Jessica Rothe’s performance here elevates almost every scene she’s in, she portrays this character in a great way to where you really believe she is changing morally with each passing experience. Her character actually has a well developed arc that gives her more layers than just the bitchy and rebellious sorority girl she is in the beginning. She taps into both the comedy and horror sides pretty well and makes for a good protagonist. The character grows on you and as she does you find yourself enjoying the film more and more. As for everyone else, no-one is really featured enough to really have any investment in. Israel Broussard plays Carter who aside from Jessica has the most screen time and he’s also a character who with each progressive death you know more and more about. Any other players are simply there to offer a number of potential suspects not necessarily to be engaging characters.
The plot itself believe it or not doesn’t get repetitive despite reliving the same day over and over again. There is something new that is focused on with each passing day making it all feel fresh with each reset. I will say that after the first three resets I was over it already but from that point there is a fair amount of enjoyment to be had. The mystery itself of who the killer is is well pulled off, the suspense doesn’t kick in immediately but does build rapidly in the final act or so. Now I can’t predict a film’s ending for shit so the fact that this ending surprised me may not be saying much but I quite liked the direction it went in. Overall there isn’t a whole lot else I can say about this movie, it isn’t fantastic by any means and it has pacing issues throughout but for what it had to deal with, in making each day different and interesting in a unique way, it did a decent job.
So in the end, if you just want a light horror film to catch on Netflix with a group of friends you can’t go wrong with Happy Death Day. It has a likeable protagonist who grows on you and a plot that once it kicks in also gets you more and more invested. The horror works for the most part and the comedic spin on certain scenes I really liked so it has both tones checked off. I want to see what Jessica Rothe takes on next as I feel this could very well be a breakout role for the 30 YEAR OLD ACTRESS???? Holy shit she does not look 30, she could probably play a college student for another 10 years.