Happy Death Day is a thriller with a touch of cleverness, but hampered by an absence of originality. This is Groundhog’s Day with a horror angle, a fact that the characters themselves point out, but it’s also very similar to Edge of Tomorrow. Happy Death Day plays like a knowing homage to the teen slasher flicks of the 1980’s, but instead of presenting a virginal angelic heroine, the title character is a bitchy, promiscuous, entitled character. The inventive aspect is that through the film’s events she becomes a humble, moral person who goes for the good guy instead of the one-night stand.
Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) is a good-looking and popular member of one of the biggest sororities on campus. She is sought after by half a dozen male suitors and hated by jealous girls. Then one evening she is murdered and dies without ever knowing the true identity of her assailant. So, she is more than shocked to wake the next day and forced to relive the day of her death over and over again, in a continual loop until she discovers who committed the crime.
Although advertised as a horror flick, accompanied by a credit for genre maestro Jason Blum, Happy Death Day doesn’t have any scares, jumps, or overly gory images. It’s a homogenized psychological thriller that never seems to take its concept seriously. By the film’s end, it’s not clear why the heroine is subjected to this mystical loop she is stuck in for the plot’s sake. The film serves as mainly a demo reel for the hardworking lead actress, Jesica Rothe, who is asked to convey a gauntlet of mood and emotions as her reality begins to unfold.
Director: Christopher Landon
Stars: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine