Happy Death Day

Directed by: Christopher Landon

Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard and Ruby Modine

A lot more fun than I thought I would have…and I realized that I am old.

Happy Death DayTree Gelbman (Jessica ‘the roommate in the green dress in La La Land’ Rothe) is a jerk. A snobby sorority girl whose life is as trashed as she is. We learn this in about the first eleven seconds of the film when she wakes up randomly in the dorm room of Carter Davis (Israel ‘he and I share the same birthday’ Broussard) and is too hung over to know how it happened.

Tree now goes about her day. She experiences the usual forgettable nuances that each day provides us. A student petitioner asking her signature, an ex-boyfriend ‘running into her’ by accident, a couple getting caught in a surprise lawn sprinkler activation and even a random car alarm. She has interactions with her sorority mates and roommate that can be left to be desired as well except for the fact that this is how we learn that today happens to be her birthday.

The movie doesn’t hold subtleties back. Tree isn’t a fan of her birthday and it having something to do with her family gets blatantly expressed. Then that evening while headed to a party at a nearby fraternity house something memorable actually does occur. She gets murdered by a masked killer!

The movie ends. Roll credits.

Wait, nope. Tree wakes up. We are transported instantly back to the opening scene and the entire setting has been started all over again. Carter, dorm room, random happenings of her day, angst from her family, birthday, oh….and getting killed! Throughout the day she had some serious deja vu going on and now it culminates by getting murdered and then waking up right back where we started. Now it’s freak out time. Day three it’s all the same once again but today Tree is going crazy. How could everything be happening again and how could she be getting murdered…again?!?

Day four is when the movie gets started. Tree, with the help of Carter, decides to find out who her killer is. If she can figure out who is killing her then she can stop this vicious cycle.

Here’s the surprise of the film, it now turns into a comedy. Each day Tree has more and more fun with her friends and colleagues since she knows they’ll never remember this the next day. I did feel they missed an opportunity though. Since Tree gets murdered each night I thought they could have included more fun ways for her to die, ala Final Destination style.

While Tree journeys to find her killer she also winds up finding herself. Is all of this happening to her becasue she’s been such a crappy human being? If she changes her ways and becomes good again could that alter this hideous scenario she has become a part of?

No more spoilers the rest of the way because as predictable as this film may seem, it actually does hold your interest until the end.

Could this be a breakout role for Jessica Rothe? Possibly. She was definitely well cast and fit the film perfectly. As far as breaking out, I don’t know that the film itself will be big enough. She and co-star Israel Broussard certainly deserve a next step in their careers from this project though!

I was pleasantly surprised with this movie. It projects as a typical “horror movie of the week” that you might find on HBO one night by accident. Good enough to suck you into watching the whole thing but as soon as it’s over you wish you could forget it. This film actually plays better than that. It even makes fun of itself in the end by referencing the Bill Murray classic film – Groundhog Day.

Wait until home viewing is an option but then definitely watch Happy Death Day.

6.5 out of 10


ps: I realized I am old because the theater was filled with 14 year olds. Instantly I was annoyed and started shushing and screaming for them to get off my lawn. Then I realized they’re just kids and to let em grow up. Plus they all would have ganged up on me out back and their mini fists of fury coulda done some damage…

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