These days it seems like every other movie in theaters is horror, to the point where the genre is starting to fall victim to “the Marvel curse”; too much of a good thing means that good thing starts to drop in quality. Despite this, I took a bit of a chance on Universal’s new “Groundhog’s Day”-esque thriller, “Happy Death Day”. In the film, a sorority girl finds herself reliving her birthday over and over again, until she can determine who keeps killing her at the end of the night.
“Happy Death Day” surprised me in that it is not as awkwardly bad as the trailers suggest. I went into the theater expecting to cringe my way through two hours of cheesy dialogue and cheap scares but left feeling somewhat satisfied and a bit giggly.
At first, I had a little bit of trouble getting into the story because the exposition is admittedly a little sloppy, and I couldn’t get past the fact that the main character’s name is Tree. She’s also pretty unlikable at first, even aside from her ridiculous name. You do eventually warm up to her by the end of the movie, but at first I could barely bring myself to care about her predicament. Also, for someone who really doesn’t want people to know its her birthday, it’s kind of weird that she has a “Happy Birthday” ringtone on her phone.
The main thing that works for “Happy Death Day” is that it has value aside from being a horror movie. It has some pretty funny moments, my favorite among them being the constantly repeated shut down of a girl advocating for global warming, which was delightfully on the nose. There is also a plethora of something I don’t know what to call other than an “Oooooooh, sh*t!” moment. Whether it has to do with the horror and murdering at hand or the snarky sorority shutdowns, the audience had fun viscerally reacting to the action on screen.
The horror itself isn’t really the shining star here. It may just be me, but I found the killer’s mask to be funnier than it is creepy, and the actual murder leans more towards humorous itself. I can’t get too mad about that though, because it does deliver one of the best murder weapons I’ve ever seen in a horror movie—a shattered bong. What I did like about the horror concept here was the mystery of it all. It isn’t immediately obvious who Tree’s killer is, and when you find out it makes it all worth it. There are also a few fairly decent jump scares along the way.
“Happy Death Day” does the best that it can with an overused plot, and the best that it can do isn’t half bad. If you’re going to see this movie, which I don’t necessarily advise against, it would be best to see in theaters—the shared experience is definitely worth it. My main advice is to just have fun with it. This isn’t the kind of movie you should take seriously, and it doesn’t expect you to do so.
Check out “Happy Death Day” in theaters this October, Friday the 13th.