Monday, October 29, 2018

Movie Review: Happy Death Day

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good acting from the lead, fun story
Cons: Light for a true slasher film (which can be a pro as well)
The Bottom Line:
A light slasher film
Tree solves a murder – her own
Surprisingly good

Can Tree Solve Her Own Murder?

Despite my fascination with slasher movies, it’s been a while since I saw an advertisement for one that intrigued me enough to actual sit through it.  As soon as I saw the preview for Happy Death Day, I was intrigued and knew I had to see it.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see it in the theater, but I did finally catch it.

When Tree (Jessica Rothe) wakes up on her birthday, she is embarrassed to realize she is waking up in a dorm room of Carter (Israel Broussard), a complete stranger.  Tree goes about through her usual day, avoiding her father’s phone calls and being her normal self.  Only, that night, someone wearing her college’s baby mascot mask kills her.

And Tree wakes up again in Carter’s room.  As things repeat themselves, Tree realizes she needs to solve her own murder to keep from dying and keep the day from resetting.  Can she do it with Carter’s help?

Obviously, this movie takes inspiration from Groundhog Day and the many similar stories that have been told over the years.  It’s an intriguing premise, and the main reason I wanted to watch the movie.  We never find out why Tree’s day keeps repeating, but apparently, there are clues to that in the movie if you know what to watch for.  I’m a bit surprised to find that this was a minor point for me.

This movie is rated PG-13, so those looking for the graphic deaths of the classic slashers will be disappointed.  Having said that, there are some creative kills along the way to the climax.  Likewise, there are a couple of minorly tense scenes, but nothing that will get your heart rate pumping for very long.

What really intrigued me about this movie is the mystery.  To put it mildly, Tree is not a nice person at the start of the story.  Yes, that gives us plenty of suspects, and it was fun watching her eliminate them over the course of the movie.  They even surprised me with the mystery along the way, which I loved.

What didn’t surprise me was Tree’s character growth.  I mean, we’ve seen this kind of story before, right?  I was surprised, however, at how happy I was with where she ended when things resolved themselves.

Make no mistake about it, this really is Jessica Rothe’s movie, and she is fantastic as Tree.  She goes through a lot over the course of the days, and I bought every note of her performance.  Israel Broussard is equally good, although Carter isn’t given nearly as much to play.  The rest of the cast is fine, but Jessica really does stand out.

I’m actually quite pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed Happy Death Day.  If the premise or previews intrigued you at all, you need to watch this light slasher flick.

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