It’s not that scary, and there’s no real blood or gore for die hard horror fans to enjoy, but Happy Death Day – the latest offering from Blumhouse Productions – still manages to deliver a wildly entertaining mashup of Groundhog Day and Scream.
College girl Tree Gelbman wakes up in the dorm of a boy she doesn’t remember spending the night with. She has a pounding headache and can’t wait to get out of there as quickly as possible. Sneering at the goth on her way out, avoiding the clipboard wielding tree hugger and blanking the less popular girl that smiles at her as she returns to her sorority house. Back in her room, her room mate has a birthday cupcake for Tree in honour of her special day, which she dumps in the bin on her way out to the class she’s late for. Later on, we discover that she’s sleeping with one of her college teachers, whose wife nearly catches them together. There certainly do seem to be a lot of people who have every right to be pissed at Tree. And, later that evening on her way to a party, Tree is approached by someone wearing a black hoodie and a baby mask. As the mysterious figure murders her, she wakes up, back in the boys dorm from that morning, and she finds herself having to endure her birth/death day once more.
Tree is understandably confused, as the days events begin to play out exactly as they did before, right up until the point where she’s murdered again by the mask wearing killer. From there she goes through stages of anger, despair and acceptance, eventually coming to the conclusion that no matter what she does or where she hides, the Baby Faced killer is always going to find her and kill her, triggering the reset button on the day in the process. It’s up to her to try and whittle down that big list of suspects, and take out the killer before they get chance to kill her. The only trouble is, each time that Tree dies the injuries she sustained leave a negative impact on her body, so she only has a limited number of days to find the killer and break the loop before she is gone forever.
So much of this movie rests on Jessica Rothe as Tree, and she just nails it, successfully moving Tree from victim to full-on bad-ass and becoming more and more likeable as she sets about changing her ways in order to get close to those potential suspects. There’s a lot of humour throughout, and a pretty decent twist towards the end, just to keep you on your toes. Overall I really liked this. There’s even a nice, last minute mention of Groundhog Day, the classic movie that this owes so much to.