Happy Death Day
If I'm honest, when I set this up to be a part of the Halloween Special, it was the title I had the lowest of expectations from. The trailer just made it look like a play on the typical American slasher film with the twist that it's essentially 'Groundhog Day' with a killer. I'm actually very happy to say that it turned out to be a pleasant surprise!
It starts out with our lead, Tree (Jessica Rothe) waking up in some guy named Carter's (Israel Broussard) dorm room after a night of partying. She is your typical "mean girl" as she goes about her day. She treats Carter like crap afterwards, she throws her roommate's surprise birthday cupcake in the trash, she has an affair with one of her college professors, and all the while carries that "I'm better than everyone 'cause I'm pretty" attitude. She's generally just a shitty person. Later that night, she gets murdered by some random wearing a baby mask, and she starts the day over via 'Groundhog Day' fashion with a dash of 'Edge of Tomorrow'. This happens a bunch of times, and each time ends with her death.
The best anyone can come up with is that she needs to figure out who her killer is in order to break the cycle. Of course, in doing this, she keeps getting caught and murdered or otherwise just dying in some other way - like once she gets nailed by a passing by car... not sure that the killer was driving, but it seemed totally accidental. This actually gives way to a rather funny montage where her death almost becomes a joke - something relatable with 'Edge of Tomorrow'.
I think perhaps the best thing about this movie is that it's not as typical as one might think. Tree (I know, the name's ridiculous) finds herself looking inside herself for a lot of it, and eventually finds that she wants to become a better person. It's almost like she's going through a personal Hell and wants to repent. I both hated her and loved her character in this. It helps that I always enjoy a story involving someone terrible who ultimately learns to become a good person. The most classic example being 'Scrooge' and a more recent example being 'The Invisible'.
I have to give the film credit for not only the development of this otherwise despicable character, but for establishing a few rules. She doesn't just come back and start over like Mario would, she comes back with injuries relating to her last death. Each time, it makes her weaker and weaker which in turn gives her situation an actual stopping point, but we never know when it will be. There was one particular death here I think they really needed to do a more with upon her return, and I can almost guarantee you'll be able to point out which one it is. But the idea of there being a limit as opposed to Bill Murray's almost God-like quality in 'Groundhog Day' is certainly clever.
I think the only thing that threw me off here would involve spoiling the movie, so I won't go into too much detail, but I was kinda disappointed with the ending. I won't give anything away, but it's the kind of thing that probably should have ended at a certain point, yet carried on to deliver more twists. In turn, this made my prediction of who the killer was in the end accurate, but it did tease at the idea of me being way off, which MIGHT have been better. That said, if it DID end where I wanted it to, it could have been seen as a total cop out at the same time. So that's just something one will have to judge for themselves.
Overall though, I enjoyed this. It delivered some good, dark laughs, and it was reminiscent of the teen horror of the 90s like 'Scream' and 'I Know What You Did Last Summer'. It was cool that they made the killer's mask the actual school mascot mask (The Babies? Okay, sure, why not?) giving way to the mystery of who the killer is. They sell the masks on campus, so it really could be anyone. I'm not sure that this will become any sort of a regular movie for me, but it was a pleasant surprise to say the least. Oh, and it's 100% self-aware that it's doing 'Groundhog Day', as it's straight up addressed within the movie itself, so bonus points for that.
Leave a Reply.