Monday, October 16, 2017

Movie Review: "Happy Death Day" (2017)

Director: Christopher Landon
Year: 2017
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

A college student is forced to live the day she gets murdered over and over again until she can survive the night long enough to discover who is killing her.

It's "Groundhog Day," folks! No wait, it's 2017's "Before I Fall"! No, that's not it, it's 2017's "Naked"! Wait... hold up... they made another live/die/repeat movie this year?!? Yup! This is a new movie called "Happy Death Day," the third "Groundhog Day" ripoff of 2017. It stars Jessica Rothe as Tree Gelbman, a not-so-nice college student who is murdered on her birthday and is then forced to live the day over and over again. At the end of the day, she will be killed each time. In order to break the cycle, she must discover who her killer is and survive the night long enough to figure out who is the culprit. This feature is directed Christopher Landon, who also directed such films as "Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse" and "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones."
If you hate your birthday, this must be your worst nightmare, even before the whole murder thing. (Image Source)
This is a self-aware horror film with a comedic undertone, though we personally think this is better described as a comedy with a little bit of a horror thrown in for good measure. Much like its admitted inspiration "Groundhog Day," the story itself deals with an unpleasant person learning to be a decent human being by living the same day multiple times The difference is main character Tree is also trying to solve her own murder along the way.
Tree has been rude to so many people, it's tough to say who killed her. (Image Source)
Apart from this small deviation, "Happy Death Day" is an extremely formulaic movie that's not really scary enough to be a horror and is not really funny enough to be a comedy. Don't get us wrong, it does have a couple of laugh-out-loud moments, but they are too few and far between. The movie is rated PG-13, so it has hardly any gore and has no real frights. The jump scares aren't that effective. Hardcore horror fans may wind up displeased with the final product. The dialogue is pretty poorly written and the plot is completely by the numbers. Tree runs through the initial scenario, followed by a confused second and third redo of her day. She then goes through several more cycles of being murdered as she finally starts to figure it out and attempts to right her wrongs.
Tree may be realizing she has to start being nice to people so, you know, she doesn't get murdered. (Image Source)
Despite its derivative nature, there are still moments of entertainment and this movie isn't totally intolerable to sit and watch. The way things are written will sometimes elicit a laugh because of the downright dumb nature of the dialogue. Some of the characters can get annoying at first but become sort of endearing as time goes on. Once Tree starts to come to her senses, she gets more tolerable and you may even want to root for her towards the end of it all. Jessica Rothe does a good job with what she's given and has fun with the script and the movie. We found her to be mostly charming despite her stereotypical bitchy nature at first. Rothe also has excellent chemistry with Israel Broussard, who plays Carter, who Tree partied with during her birthday and eventually becomes an ally in her murder investigation.
This baby mask makes the villain uber-terrifying. (Image Source)
"Happy Death Day" might be overly formulaic and an extremely tropey, mediocre affair, but it made us laugh a couple of times and managed to make us say, "hey, we don't completely hate ourselves for having experienced this in the theater." If you sat through "Rings," "The Bye Bye Man," "Resident Evil: The Final Chapter," "Flatliners," or "Wish Upon" this year, you'll know we count this as a victory. This will most likely be a massive crowd pleaser.

Oh, and by the way, if you're an annoying teenager who wants to talk at full volume with your friends and keep checking your phone like petulant children and you happen to be right behind two people who are aspiring movie critics,  you might want to shut your big, giant, annoying mouth-breathing yappers or you'll wind up in a movie review. kthx.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 4.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~66%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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