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Review: Happy Death Day

Jessica Rothe stars in Universal Pictures' HAPPY DEATH DAY

Thankfully for us, instead of the typical horror/thriller film, Happy Death Day turns out to be closer to Groundhog Day and the underrated Live Die Repeat (formerly know as Edge of Tomorrow). That’s something that Jason Blum and company appear to be good at. That’s why I’m glad they’re out. Because even when they don’t achieve success, they’re willing to offer up something that will separate itself from the average movies of the genre that too many seem to want to remake all the time.

In this picture, we follow Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) as she finds herself in an unbelievable time loop that forces her to live the same day over and over again. What makes it even worse is that this also happens to be the same day where she’s brutally murdered. Each and every day ends badly for the college student, but she’s determined to find out how to prevent her murder and end her continuous circle through life so she can move into the future and maybe become a better person because of it.

Although I can’t say that I liked Happy Death Day all that much, I admit that the attempt to do something different within this genre filled with repetition helps it out. And with what looks like the long overdue death of the found footage era finally arriving, that’s something that is truly needed and welcomed. Sure, this probably won’t catch on since it’s not something you can repeat too many times, but it’s fresh for the genre and an effort that I appreciate.

That and the path that it takes to get where it wants to go allows this to capture that aura of freshness. In order to make this feel different, one of the things that was done here was with the protagonist. In Happy Death Day, the young woman we’re following isn’t very likable as a person. This allows her to have the kind of story arc that we don’t get in pictures like this. Because of this, there’s an element of growth that we get here that almost turns this into a real movie.

What doesn’t allow for this to reach that level of quality is the fact that it doesn’t seem believable. Yes, it’s not based in reality, but I’m talking about the film’s version of reality. Some of what goes on simply doesn’t make sense and can’t be explained using any kind of logic. In order for some of what happens here to work, this apparently needed to be done. It’s something that I kind of give Happy Death Day a pass for, but it’s hard to ignore to some degree.

With that being an issue to an extent, there’s actually a bigger problem in this movie. What prevents this from being better than it actually is turns out to be the comedic aspects not being as good as they could have been. Now, it’s certainly more of a horror/thriller, but the tone is definitely comedic. This lasts through the entire movie, but it never gets to the point where it’s genuinely funny. It’s amusing I guess, but it whiffs on it’s jokes for the most part.

I know comedy is difficult, but improving on that gives Happy Death Day the kind of quality that makes it easy to recommend to just about anybody. With that being the case, it’s hard to say that people will regret watching it. The only way that would happen is if you watch and can’t get over it missing on an opportunity to be better. And since it’s the kind of movie that everyone will likely forget after a while, I doubt that will happen.

Rating: PG-13

Director: Christopher Landon

Jessica Rothe
Israel Broussard
Ruby Modine
Charles Aitken
Laura Clifton

Film Length: 96 minutes

Release Date: October 13, 2017

Distributor: Universal Pictures

  • Score - 4.5/10
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