Directed by Christopher Landon
A young college student gets stuck in a mysterious time loop on her birthday and must solve her own murder or be stuck getting killed forever.
This is an entertaining and at times touching as well as funny slasher film with a time travel element. It is an unusual combo of things that comes together in something rather enjoyable. Happy Death Day is not entirely original, but it is good.
Teresa (Jessica Rothe) is not a good person. She is a bit self-centered and kind of mean and she realizes this as the loops go on. There is genuine character growth from the beginning of the film to the end as she realizes what kind of a person she is and that it is not someone to be proud of. The moment where this is all focused is when she finally after several loops has her birthday lunch with her father (Jason Bayle) and tries to start over.
The death of her mother had left a deep emotional wound and that this is happening on her birthday which is also her mother’s birthday shines a light on that to her. While her bad attitude is explained in the film, it is not excused. She is not given a pass but rather the character confronts her flaws and must do better.
Tree, as her friends call her, also realizes that this random guy Carter (Israel Broussard) that she otherwise would not be interested in is probably someone she should go after. She keeps waking up in his dorm after a night of partying (though nothing happened between them). She begins to develop feelings for him loop after loop as she gets to know and understand him. It is kind of like 50 First Dates but without the regular amnesia.
Happy Death Day is a slasher film that also happens to be a bit of a genuine mystery. While the focus is on how Teresa dies each time, they do drop clues during each loop on who the killer is. They are not obvious, and they are nothing that the main character would necessarily see or pick up on easily, but the viewer should. You can piece the snippets of information together and figure out who the killer is. Even you cannot or do not want to, the fun of the film will not be ruined.
Teresa has fun with the loops as characters often do in these types of movies when they either need a break or just realize they can live out a few fantasies free of consequences. These sort of deaths and kills are entertaining. And she even at least once resets the timeline when Carter has been killed by the killer. But it is not all dark humor. As the character grows she lets go of her inhibitions and even does the right thing when she previously had not.
It is not all fun and games either. There are growing consequences to the resets. It is revealed she does not start each day completely unscathed which ups the seriousness of her situation. She sustained an injury each time before reset and they carry over to the point it could kill her which puts a sense of danger in the whole concept that was otherwise lacking. Wise move on the part of the creative minds here.
I admit to getting this movie because it was on sale. Turns out it was actually a good movie. It’s less humorous than Groundhog Day which the movie references but certainly much more dark. It is as much a slasher film as it is dark comedy. While not too original take on a time loop, it is a very fun take with moments of surprising emotion supported by fine acting.
Happy Death Day is a fun movie with good dark humor and entertaining characters. You will laugh. You will jump. You might even get scared. But you will definitely have a good time. This is a very good film that I guarantee you will like.