Photo from Vidio.com
By Chelsea Sullivan
Take one of the most cliché movie tropes, add teen-drama and a horror twist, and you have “Happy Death Day.” Walking in with low expectations, I was pleasantly surprised, but not amazed. Based on the premise of a person being forced to relive the same day repeatedly, the film does have qualities that make it unique and entertaining. There is romance, suspense and frustration as the situation unravels. At the same time, the film is labeled as a “horror-comedy,” yet the comedy tends to be very forced. Despite several unexpected turns and a few jump scares, it was not as scary as it had the potential to be.
Tree, played by Jessica Rothe, is initially a character one has a hard time feeling sympathy towards. She is the stereotypical, insensitive sorority girl, and the movie starts off with her waking up in someone’s dorm room, immediately feeling ashamed. She rejects the boy’s kind intentions and stumbles back to her sorority house, only to shrug off her roommate as well. Fortunately, she becomes a bit kinder and charismatic after dying a few times. Every night she is killed at the hands of an unknown individual. Her goal is to defend herself and find out who is plotting against her so she can make it to the next day. However, all she knows is that he or she is wearing her college’s signature baby mask. The real mystery here is why any college would choose such a terrifying mascot.
Almost every background character in “Happy Death Day” is and remains shallow. The “leader” of the sorority, Danielle, surpasses even Tree’s initial level of cold-heartedness. She criticizes any other sister that does not meet her standards on how to eat, act and look. Other college students, especially the ones at Tree’s surprise party, are completely oblivious to everything around them. Luckily, Carter, the boy whose room Tree wakes up in, brings life to this sea of flat characters. He is the only person to take the time to listen to her problems without judgment. He repeatedly brings clarity to her traumatic and seemingly hopeless situation, even though he does not remember it the next day.
Writer Scott Lobdell is primarily a writer of comic books, so he offers a new perspective to the horror movie scene. Director Christopher Landon on the other hand, has his share of experience, having written the “Paranormal Activity” series along with “Disturbia.” He uses his skill to keep the plot smooth and captivating despite its intended redundancy.
Overall, “Happy Death Day” is enjoyable, but not a must-see.