Horror movie fans only dream of perfect instances in which a [good] scary movie releases the weekend of Friday the 13th; it’s so hard to come by these days, much less an adequate collection of decent scary movies the entire month of October. Lucky for us, Happy Death Day not only restores our faith in this holiday weekend, but also provides an updated, refreshing retelling of the classic Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray.
The trailer depicted Happy Death Day as a cheesy horror flick, forever stuck in a nightmare that wouldn’t stop playing 50 Cent’s “In Da Club;” however, the movie was much more than that and thankfully didn’t have a trace of that throwback song. HDD is about a college student named Tree (Jessica Rothe) doomed to relive the day of her murder until she ultimately finds her killer. Every time she’s killed (nine times to be exact) she wakes up in a guy’s dorm room, forced to relive the day all over again – and it just so happens to be her birthday. To an extent, the premise has been done before, but this one actually does a pretty good job of surprising its audience, even if it is a tad predictable at times. Each time she dies a different way and there’s never a dull or redundant moment running the risk of “drudging” its way along. In fact, there were moments when I hoped she’d die again just so I can see how she handles it.
The killer wore a Bayford University Baby mask and black clothes, which you’d think is pretty odd — first of all, why is your mascot a baby? — but it was actually pretty creepy and rightfully so as the creator of this strange costume was the same guy who came up with the Scream franchise icon. Nicely done. There were a lot of “bad guys” in the movie, placed just so we would question who her real killer is. That was most of the fun. The other half of the fun was just watching Tree’s character growth. Jessica Rothe uses her charm and infectious personality to portray a girl you absolutely do not feel sorry for at first, but before you know it – you fall in love with by the end. (Queue the diner fart scene.) And, it makes sense for the actress as she played Alexis, one of the dancing and singing friends in La La Land starring Emma Stone. She’s basically that girl-next-door we all hope we are, but know it’s not possible.
HDD is a fun, sometimes dramatic, and horrifying twist on the old-fashioned saying “If you could relive this day all over again, what would you do differently?” Depending on how you look at it, the film could have a multitude of themes, but if you’re able to resist over-analyzing it and actually accept it for what it sets out to be, you will be able to treat yo’self to this new Halloween favorite.
You can find Alyson on Twitter @alyjour when she’s not co-hosting the Squibardry podcast!