Happy Death Day is like a stew of Groundhog Day, Mean Girls, and Slasher flicks. You might ask how that works, and I’d say pretty well. Happy Death Day revolves around Tree Gelbman, a self-obsessed college student who has no concern for others. On the night of her birthday, she is murdered. As soon as she wakes up, she is back to the beginning of the same day, forced to relive everything again. From there, we are taken on a trip of finding out who the killer is, and how to break the cycle of repeating days.
What makes this film stand out from all the other teen horror films that seem to be releasing constantly, is the self-aware and campy attitude of the film. It’s goofy and typical, but in a way that’s charming and fun. Jessica Rothe, who plays the main character Tree, does a great job at being the bratty sorority girl. She has to go through quite a few emotions throughout the film, and she does a good job at delivering.
The cinematography good, but some shots are a little dark or lacking in variety. They do take some effort to add one or two dynamic transitions, and that was welcome to see. Nothing dragged me out of the film visually, but overall it was just typical.
In terms of story, the beginning starts traditionally, going through the tropes of living the same day on repeat, and doesn’t do too much different. The story then throws in great little twists, that I won’t mention, in the middle of the film that helps push the story into a unique plot that helps differentiate itself from others. I would say the film drags just a tad in the first act, but the story then supplements for that lacking with a great ending.
I would like to also mention the score, that is well done. I hate in horror films whenever the only audio is loud shrieks when the killer or spirit is near. This film actually laces that shrieking with an orchestra score that pops well with the campy tone of the film. Take all of the writing above in this context though: this is a silly teenage horror film. Don’t expect the next Get Out, but keep an open mind about it. If you are looking for a great movie to see with friends this Friday the 13th, this is what I’d recommend. It’s goofy and typical, but harnesses just enough charm to let you walk of the theater saying, “I’m pleasantly surprised!”