Happy Death Day centres on a college student named Tree (Jessica Rothe), who forced to relive the day of her murder over and over again until she finds out who’s killing her in the first place.
Live, die, repeat. Except this is not a tagline from Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow but rather the wicked premise of a little horror movie called Happy Death Day. Still, both of them happens to inspire from Groundhog Day, a 90s comedy gem that sees the poor Bill Murray relives the same day over and over again. A Groundhog Day-like horror movie is actually nothing new (see Vincenzo Natali’s Haunter), but director Christopher Landon (2014’s Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones) alongside screenwriter Scott Lobdell certainly deserve credits for coming up a fun yet playful horror-comedy that (thankfully) doesn’t take itself seriously.
The fun, of course, lies on how Landon and Lobdell having a field day torturing — literally and figuratively — Jessica Rothe’s Tree character who gets murdered in a various manner over and over again. Just don’t expect any creative kills here since most of the murder parts are basically your standard stalk-and-slash variety. It’s also quite a pity the movie gets watered down with an audience-friendly PG-13 rating. Besides, imagine how much fun the director could have pushed the boundaries of its Groundhog Day-like premise if it was an R-rated instead.
But even for a PG-13 rated horror comedy, Happy Death Day remains a fun (excuse my repetition on using the word “fun”, no pun intended) little movie. At the heart of this movie is Jessica Rothe, who delivers a delightfully game performance as Tree. Too bad, the rest of the actors are largely relegated to underwritten roles. So, you could say this is pretty much a Rothe’s show.
As for the killer, the appearance of the baby-faced masked antagonist does give a sense of creepy vibes. Finally, Landon and Lobdell also get to fool around with red herrings, particularly during the ending centres on the killer’s identity.