Movie Reviews

31 Days of Halloween: Review: Star-making performance carries Blumhouse to another victory in ‘Happy Death Day’

By Jordan Peterson |

HDD
A baby-faced killer stalks Jessica Rothe in “Happy Death Day.” | Universal Studios

Director: Christopher Landon
Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews, Charles Aitken, Laura Clifton
Release date: October 13th, 2017
Rated: PG-13 (for violence/terror, crude sexual content, language, some drug material and partial nudity)
Running time: 1 hour and 36 minutes


“Get up. Live your day. Get killed. Again.”

If the tagline for Blumhouse’s latest low-budget horror flick, Happy Death Day, sounds familiar, that’s because it’s essentially a variation on Edge of Tomorrow‘s “Live. Die. Repeat.” Both films sample the catchy Groundhog Day hook where somebody must re-live the same twenty-four hour duration over and over and over again until they’ve learned some valuable life lesson or accomplished some meaningful task (or both).

In Happy Death Day that somebody is Theresa “Tree” Gelbman (Jessica Rothe), a sorority mean girl trapped inside the day of her murder (also her birthday) until she can unmask her baby-faced killer and learn to be a better person.

It couldn’t hurt, either. The first time we meet Tree, the snarky party girl is waking with a hangover in the bed of a sweet nerdy guy named Carter (Isreal Broussard) after a night of intoxicated debauchery. He folded her pants and offers her water and Ibuprofen, yet Tree’s only concern is making sure nobody ever finds out about their one-night stand.

Tree treats everybody in her life with similar disgust. That is, of course, except one hunky professor with whom she regularly helps commit adultery. So it’s no surprise that once the time comes to whip up a list of people who might want her dead, Tree doesn’t even bother.

Though it’s initially played for laughs, we eventually learn that deep down Tree truly hates herself. Not a shocker, I know. You need only flip on any T.V. show to find this exact trope playing out in one form or another. The difference here, however, is star Jessica Rothe (who briefly shared the screen alongside Emma Stone in La La Land).

Though it takes some time before Rothe is given much to do outside scowl, her infectious charisma ultimately wins the day. Happy Death Day is at its very best when she is allowed to embrace her inner-jokester. In between, Rothe serves the more somber, character moments with just the right amount of ham.

Verdict: 🎃🎃🎃 (out of four)


Did you all get a chance to catch Happy Death Day? What did you think? Was it everything you hoped a Scream and Groundhog Day crossover would be? Hit me up in the comments below. I want to hear from you!

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