Photo provided by Universal Pictures
Get Up. Go to Class. Party. Die. Repeat.
This snappy, hour and a half comedy-horror-mystery, makes one thing clear: being a good person requires an awful lot of death.
“Happy Death Day” does not try to hide the fact that it is an unapologetic medley of the 1996 horror film, “Scream” and 1993 comedy “Groundhog Day.” However, despite its potential to be monotonous and repetitive, director Christopher B. Landon and screenplay writer Scott Lobdell kept the plot turning and viewers on their toes. Truly, watching someone live the same day 16 times is not as annoying as it sounds.
Coming out fittingly on Friday the 13th, this movie blends the lightness of a comedy with the plot of a yster, the haunting murder scenes of a thriller and the underpinnings of a romance. And whether it was intentional or not, it looks at rape culture on college campuses and bystanders’ roles in it. However until the creepy Bayfield Baby horrific mascot appears, the movie has the appearance of any college campus movie.
After Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothie), a blissful self-centered collegian, wakes up on her birthday in the bed of her love interest Carter (Israel Broussard), she staggers to her sorority house and tires to remember her foggy night out. That is until she gets the eerie feeling that she’s experienced the events of this day before. While each day after a masked killer suddenly takes her life in a brutal attack, she once again magically wakes up in Carter’s dorm room unharmed. Now, the frightened young woman must relive the same day over and over until she figures out who murdered her.
With no shortage of jump scares, “Happy Death Day” lets you relax as she goes through her day and cringe as she is brutally murdered each night. Landon finds a nice balance in his cinematography, to not make viewers too unsettled but still incorporate the enthralling element of horror.
Although I expected this movie to be cliche because of its unoriginal plot, its successful execution surprised me. Even when you think Tree defeats the cycle, “Happy Death Day” keeps things unexpected until the end.
While Rothie only gave a mildly compelling performance of Tree, the engaging soundtrack fully compensates. Well known artists such as Demi Lovato and the band The Lumineers, as well as new voices Mother Mother and Cherry Glazer, made the soundtrack captivating
As Tree fights to escape the fate of her death, the movie encapsulates every positive aspect of a light-hearted comedy, a suspenseful mystery and a romantic ending. On a quest to eliminate suspects, this vulnerable college student takes her life into her own hands, she only discovers her masked killer when she develops empathy.
Although most wrapped up in a predictable ending, some questions remain on the table. Landon reportedly told Insider Magazine that Tree’s story is not over, leaving me wondering when “Happy Deathuation Day” will be.
Story by Emily Fuller, Arts + Life Editor