Don’t let the title fool you and give this a chance. You may be surprised.
Synopsis: A teenage girl, trying to enjoy her birthday, soon realizes that this is her final one. That is, if she can figure out who her killer is. She must relive that day, over and over again, dying in a different way each time. Can she solve her own murder? (IMDB)
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, and Ruby Modine
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Director: Christopher Landon
Rating: 14A (Canada)/PG-13 (United States)
Running Time: 96mins
For showtimes and more, check out Happy Death Day on movietimes.com.
On paper, the film’s premise sounds silly and the title and trailer just further this. While it is undoubtedly silly, it is much more than its silly premise. The term mindless has been thrown around a lot to describe certain films and this one was probably one of the best examples of this. This is not the first film this year dealing with a character having to relive their death this year. The difference between this film and Before I Fall was that this film takes a darker turn, being a horror film.
This film has a 14A/PG-13 rating which sometimes works against horror films. On one side it widens its potential audience but on the other side, it sanitizes the proceedings to the point that it takes viewers out of the experience (my personal opinion). This was not the case here although it was more of a thriller than a pure horror film.
As mentioned, the story wasn’t original though what sets it apart is its execution. A woman named Tree Gelbman (Rothe) is forced to relive her birthday and her subsequent murder until she figured out the identity of her killer. The film does not explain how this came to be. She started off as an unlikable sorority girl who over time learned the error of his ways as this ordeal led her to take a deep look at herself. The story, for the most part, wasn’t overly predictable although occasionally suffered from horror film pitfalls.
The film surprisingly touched multiple genres other than horror and thriller by featuring some comedy and drama as well. While the dramatic moments weren’t the strongest aspects, the film more than makes up for it with the other three. It took awhile to get going but once it focused on Tree’s investigation, it got much better. This was thrilling to watch as it brought out some decent darkly comedic moments to break up the tension and some satire of college life. The story went in many directions which was fun to watch, however, the end was a little disappointing after everything that had happened to that point.
The acting was great across the board with Rothe being the standout. She provides a very charismatic performance and was compelling to watch throughout. Tree wasn’t a traditional female lead in that she was more proactive than reactive. Broussard as Tree’s sort of boyfriend Carter was great as well in having to start his relationship with Tree over and over again while having chemistry with Rothe which made them fun to watch together.
Overall, this was a great, mindless thriller that overcomes its silly premise thanks to its smartly-written script and excellent performances.