A shockingly good horror comedy
Whoa, where did this movie come from? When you see as many movies as I do, it's hard to miss trailers for upcoming films. When I saw the trailer for Happy Death Day, I did not have very high expectations. It looked like one gimmick (the Groundhog Day trope of reliving a day over and over again) with a lot of jokes that appealed to frat bros, and that was about it. But wow did this movie deliver! While yes, it is just a gimmick, and while yes there are a lot of jokes that appealed to frat bros, (I mean, c'mon.... obvious hazing in the middle of the quad where a dude faints and we're supposed to laugh at it? Good one, guys.) but there's still a lot to like here. Look. It's a stupid movie. I'm not gonna say otherwise. But it's a stupid movie that I had an absolute blast watching. If you have a soft spot for horror, or for the slasher genre, then do I have a movie for you!
So, let's start with the good. The film is anchored by Jessica Rothe (making her feature debut as a lead) as Tree. Tree? That's the name we're going with for the main character? ...... sure. Silly name aside, (though if your real name is Tree then I salute you) Rothe is excellent here in the lead role, as she might as well be a real-life sorority sister. And her character is great! Tree is not your standard damsel-in-distress. She is definitely a power lead that can take anything sent her way. Heck, she isn't even all that likable. But you can't help but love her and feel for her as she experiences all these traumatic events/deaths over and over again. Equally charming is another relative newcomer, Israel Broussard. He plays Carter, aka the guy Tree (still can't get over that name) wakes up to every morning. I found myself rooting for him by the end of the movie, and that doesn't often happen. But I couldn't help myself! They just have such a nice chemistry! I know the movie is playing me like a fiddle but I don't care! There are a lot of problems with the story, which we'll get to, but it still hit all the right notes at exactly the right time. And I knew it was, too, but it didn't matter! There's even a surprisingly emotional moment right in the middle of it that caught me off guard, but it still worked. And I did not see the final twist coming, believe it or not. It was a good twist! There are definitely some plot holes with this twist, but who cares? You're not here to analyze, you're here to have fun! Like I did! I had an absolute blast watching this movie, and nothing anyone says will convince me otherwise. There's not a whole lot else going on with this movie. The editing was alright, but nothing that would blow your mind, and the set design/score/cinematography were all b-movie level. Which is totally fine for this film. Oh! Costumes! Most of them were whatever, but can we talk about how creepy that pig mask is? What a great costume choice. The killer overall is pretty awesome, as they're a faceless, voiceless terror, and it's pretty darn creepy.
That said...... there are a lot of problems with this movie, besides the frat bro jokes and the fact the lead character's name is Tree. It's hard to talk about without throwing in spoilers, but there's about 20 minutes of this film that's just straight fluff right around the start of the third act. Which is a problem when the film is only 96 minutes long. I don't want to go into it any more than I have to, but let's just say the film sets up a certain character arc, and it makes a big deal about said character arc just to go, "NOPE! JUST KIDDING." Which made those 20 minutes feel like a complete waste of time. And then by the end it got pretty ridiculous, too. Like "roll your eyes and laugh" kind of ridiculous. But I think that was intentional so I won't fault the movie too much for that. Also, this film's rules are kind of confusing. As in there are no rules. Tree keeps reliving the same day over and over but each time she wakes up she's a bit weaker for some reason, and then we never understand why she's given the ability to relive this day in the first place. Because that's not an important question or anything, right? Also, when the villain is revealed.... it's a good twist, but was that person really capable of some of the crazy deaths we saw? I say no, but who cares. Those deaths were certainly over-the-top so what does it matter. Ultimately, Happy Death Day is a shockingly enjoyable horror comedy that's well worth a watch, however it falls apart the second you try and analyze it. So just go see it, have a good time, and leave it at that.
The Critique: A surprisingly good horror comedy, Happy Death Day plays its gimmick just well enough to be enjoyable, despite leaving a lot of plot holes along the way.
The Recommendation: If you like horror or slasher films, this one is well worth your time. If not? This may be a good one to see to jump into-it's still kind of mild when it comes to both the horror aspect and slasher aspect.
Rewatchability: Moderately High
The Verdict: 7/10 Good