[Review] ‘Happy Death Day’ is a Good Time You May Not Want to Relive

It’s your typical slasher film scenario.  A college girl finds herself the target of a masked murderer and ultimately meets a grisly end. However, in this story death is only the beginning.

“Happy Death Day” stars Jessica Rothe as Tree, a self-absorbed sorority girl who treats everyone around her like human garbage.  Even on her birthday Tree is obnoxious and rude.  She ignores her father’s phone call, tosses her friend’s homemade gifts in the trash, and snaps at a guy just trying to be nice to her.  Tree seems to have more enemies than friends, so it’s no surprise that someone is killing her on her birthday.  Thankfully, every time she dies she gets to relive the day over and over again in a desperate attempt to solve her own murder.

The basic premise of “Happy Death Day” is your typical ’90s slasher flick, crossed with “Groundhog’s Day.”  It’s a clever mash-up and one we don’t see too often, so on concept alone the film immediately stands out among it’s peers.  However, there’s a third element injected into the film that bogs the movie down.  There’s a healthy dose of “coming of age” story plot details that add an unusual amount of corny flavor to the story.  For example, there are a few scenes where we get to see Tree triumphantly walking through the campus while a pop song plays signifying her growth as a person.  It’s hamfisted and feels completely out of place.

There are also plenty of comedic beats throughout the film to help break up the tension, but they can be extremely hit or miss.  There are a few bright spots that had me genuinely laughing out loud, but also ones that left me groaning.  Take, for example, a scene where Tree let’s a giant fart rip in the middle of a dinner because no one will remember anyways.  The humor dips into pretty juvenile territory and sometimes gets into that “coming of age” territory where it just feels too “feel  good.”

“Happy Death Day” is PG-13 so it’s not as violent as your usual slasher film.  There are some pretty big deaths in the movie, but most of them are implied or cut away just before you see the graphic details so as to protect it’s PG-13 rating.  It’s not exactly horrible, but it feels like the film pulls a few too many punches to preserve it’s rating.  Scares also a bit expected as they’re all mostly of the jump scare variety.

Despite a few annoying flaws, “Happy Death Day” is still a fun watch based on the concept and performances.  It’s a very entertaining film even when it falls flat.  For every misfire, there’s another moment that pulls you back into the film right around the corner.  And yeah, it’s “coming of age” bits are rather glaring, but there are a few emotional notes mixed in that are pleasant and inoffensive and give the film more weight than a normal slasher film.

“Happy Death Day” is a perfectly fine slasher entry that may not appeal to the horror hardcore, but it’s got that mass appeal feel that’ll ensure that those who see it have a good time.

Oh I just remembered my biggest complaint about the film.  They don’t use 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’ in the actual film! What the hell?  I should knock down the score for that alone.

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