HOLLYWOOD—I will admit I’m a person that likes my horror to be just that: horror. I’m not a big fan of mixing horror with comedy because 9 out of 10 days it ends up being a comedy and there is nothing horrifying transpiring on the screen. The way I see it, if I want to laugh I would see a comedy, not a horror flick, but “Happy Death Day” presents an interesting premise that is more entertaining than I expected.
This unique take in the horror realm follows college coed Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe), who finds herself trapped in a time loop where she is horribly killed each time only to awake the next day to live through the madness all over again. Rothe delivers a fine performance in the film as our protagonist, who just happens to be a mean girl; Tree is not the girl next door. She is mean-spirited, vindictive and shall I say a bit entitled. The fun of “Happy Death Day” is the ride the movie takes the audience on as our main character does everything in her power to attempt to cheat her death, however, it doesn’t always work out the way she plans it.
The film is an invitation for the spectator to indulge in what actions he or she would take if they found themselves in such a predicament. Think of “Happy Death Day” as a collision between a horror film meets “Groundhog Day.” I cannot really consider this a slasher film because people don’t die in a systematic manner, only one person does and it’s more along the lines of a clever whodunit.
That is what makes this flick so much fun, especially when Tree listens to her pal, and one time hookup Carter Davis (Israel Broussard) and starts to pinpoint it’s vital to locate her killer before he or she ultimately kills her. With each death it takes a toll on Tree’s body; neat plot twist and one I wish I had thought of America. While a horror film with sprinkles of comedy throughout, it also has a bit of a redemption arc. With each loop, Tree gets the opportunity to right a wrong and turn a negative perception herself into something positive.
“Happy Death Day” gets major points for an original idea that has never been seen in the horror field. Another plus is the flick tames the level of violence to PG-13 restraints, which invites a new audience into the mix. Had the flick been rated-R I’m not so certain the flick would work as well. Why? The violence could be elevated taming the focus on the narrative which is not always unique or original in the horror arena.
The biggest fun is the big reveal at the end of the flick, when the audience learns the identity of Tree’s killer. The movie delivers small hints and if watched a second time you are able to connect the dots, and pinpoint the killer. “Happy Death Day” dare I say is one of the smartest horror flicks I’ve seen in recent years, and it’s extremely rare to please such a fan like myself who is critical of the genre.