Happy Death Day, Horror's 'Groundhog Day', Doesn't Disappoint!

*If you’re interested in Happy Death Day, don’t watch past the 2 minute mark of the trailer below. They spoil what is actually a cool twist in the movie for no reason.*

Welcome back to another edition of Rob’s Monday Morning Movie Review! This week I let you guys decide what movie I was going to go see, and by just ONE PERCENT…Happy Death Day was the victor.

This excited me because out of those four choices, Happy Death Day was actually the one I wanted to see the most. Why, you ask? Well let me explain. Happy Death Day is a low budget Blumhouse Pictures film marketed as horror’s “Groundhog Day” starring Jessica Rothe, one of Mia’s (almost distractingly gorgeous) roommates in La La Land. Those three things put together seemed like a pretty promising combo to me! Plus, I love movies like this. Groundhog Day, Source Code, Edge of Tomorrow, any movie with the premise of respawning and having the chance to right your wrongs from the previous day captures my imagination. Did this one deliver? Let’s talk about it!


Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 3.05.54 AM

Happy Death Day follows Teresa Gelbman (shortened to Tree), a college student who gets brutally murdered on her birthday and wakes up in a dorm room on the morning of her death…over, and over, and over again. With the help of Carter Davis (Israel Broussard), the kid who’s dorm she wakes up in, Tree devises a plan to find out who’s murdering her, and doesn’t care how many times she has to die to find out the truth. The only issue with the plan is that Tree is a Grade A bitch, so she’s given just about everyone at her university a reason to kill her.

Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 3.07.57 AM

The first act of this movie is relatively flawless. The first time Tree lives through her birthday, they lay down a great foundation of characters, give each one a motive to murder Tree, and establish that our protagonist is a DICK! To EVERYONE! Somehow, someway, she’s still sympathetic, and the first time she’s killed, it’s pretty frightening. The villain wears this creepy ass baby mask that’s the mascot of the school or something.

Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 12.51.45 AM

As the next few deaths go on, you’d expect the movie to get a little more predictable with each one, but it does quite the opposite. Through clever camera angles, great sound design, and a few convenient plot devices, you’re left guessing when Tree and her killer will run into each other, and there’s a few off-speed pitches mixed in that left me swinging in the dust. There’s also a few comedic moments in the first third of Happy Death Day that all land, but it generally keeps a very dramatic and grounded tone. That is, until the inevitable montage of “death days” set to Demi Lovato’s “Confident” (banger). This was a turning point for me where the movie dipped off in quality pretty noticeably, got a bit goofier, and a little more “teenage horror flick”…but then it hit me.

Happy Death Day is rated PG-13. This is a teenage horror flick, and it’s accomplishing everything it’s aiming to.

Tree’s character arc was working, the audience was starting to rally behind her, the swerves were unexpected (even the one I urged you not to watch the trailer because of shocked the dude next to me), the few jump scares all hit, and the performances were…(wait for it)…killer! Mainly Jessica Rothe’s, but Israel Broussard and Ruby Modine were standouts as well. Rothe, though, she’s got one hell of a career ahead of her. Put a different actress in this role and I might have a wildly different view on the movie.

Happy Death Day falls out of the mystery roots it sets you up with in the first act, which I was perfectly fine with by what I believed to be the film’s end, but it does throw you for a bit of a loop and winds up giving you a more traditional payoff for the genre.

Personally, I would’ve preferred this movie kept its original serious tone it had for the first third, along with the smarts that accompanied that tone, and I probably would’ve ended the flick a full loop before it did in actuality, but I was satisfied with Happy Death Day. We all remember the first ‘scary’ movie we’ve ever seen that got the adrenaline going (mine was I Am Legend, feel old yet?), and I can see this one being that for a lot of kids. It’s a perfect introductory horror movie; a dumb-fun popcorn film in mid-October to get you in the spooky spirit. Does it have flaws? Fuck yeah. A bunch of ‘em. Are they drastic enough to make Happy Death Day a non-enjoyable movie? Nope! This film kept my attention for all 96 minutes it ran for. I know I said I wouldn’t be rating movies every week because I think it’s too hard to do, but I’d give Happy Death Day about 6.25 thumbs up out of 10 thumbs up. That’s how that works, right?









Sup guys. We’re gonna do the bullet points thing.

-I hated the roommate reveal! I was completely content with having that random escaped killer be Tree’s murderer, especially if the significance behind the respawns was never going to be explained. Her waking up after sharing that cupcake with Carter was a genuine shock, as I was literally un-reclining my chair and getting ready to leave, but the ninja kick out of the window murder was so over-the-top and goofy after that reveal full of silly “DUMB BITCH” exposition that they kinda lost me. Sorrey!

-I loved the Groundhog Day joke at the end. At least this movie didn’t take itself too seriously.

-Tree’s second death (or maybe her third, I forget) was awesome. The one with the “Pleasuredome”. That’s what I was referring to when I said I was swinging in the dust not knowing when she was gonna die. I thought on the way there, when she got there, when she went into the room, when the kid came out of the closet in the mask…by the time we saw the actual murderer kill the kid that wanted to fuck Tree, I was exhausted.

-Carter is my fucking dude. What a cool guy. I’m so glad they had Tree briefly contemplate whether or not she should finish the deed with Joseph Tombs because it’d mean Carter would stay dead. Her “See you soon!” line was a nice cheesy action movie line, too.

-As much as I liked Carter, someone on Reddit suggested he should’ve been the killer, and that would’ve been amazing. If he were just some crazy psychopath in love with Tree who found a way to trap her in a loop, determined to be the first person she saw in the morning and the last person she saw at night? That’s the movie to make. Run it back.

-The storyline involving Tree’s mother’s death/dad’s dinner date was a bit weird. I guess it was in place to make us feel bad for her, but the repeated deaths did that enough for me.

-How do you give away the cop pulling her over and getting murdered in the trailer?! That’s one of the best, most intriguing parts of the entire movie! It’s such a “Holy shit!” moment and REALLY has you not knowing what to expect. Is Tree gonna go to jail and get killed there? Would she be sent to a psych ward? Really, just the tease of seeing such a drastically different version of her birthday would’ve had me on the edge of my seat if I didn’t see the trailer.

-While I didn’t love the Demi Lovato montage (that felt like it was there for the sole purpose of having that topless shot in trailers), the montage of Tree making amends with everyone she’s wronged before going in for the kill on Combs was very well done. When she finally shoots him (after that clever power going out bit), the theater let out a big cheer.

-I could be COMPLETELY wrong on this, but I feel like there weren’t a ton of loud “CLANG” noises to go along with every jump scare. That’s good…if I’m remembering correctly!

That’s all I got. Make sure to come back here same Bat-Time/same Bat-Channel ( Monday at 10am) next week for my review of either The Snowman, Wonderstruck, Geostorm, or Only The Brave depending on what you guys vote for on Friday! Check out the trailers for those flicks below.