Many may remember Happy Death Day, either because of its sequel that came out this year, or because of the propulsive and funny original film that was released back in 2017. I had personally not caught up with Happy Death Day, despite managing to see a ton of 2017 releases. So today I decided to rent it.
To my surprise, I quite enjoyed it. While it suffers from conventional plotting and an overly gluttonous dose of slasher tropes and clichés, it also has a healthy amount of self-awareness — something you can find in Wes Craven’s Scream franchise. It’s this element of the film, and the comedy that is interspersed throughout, that really helps sell the concept at work.
For those who don’t know, Happy Death Day is a slasher film that centers around Tree Gelbman, played by Jessica Rothe. She gets stuck in a Groundhog Day-esque cycle after she is murdered by a mysterious figure in a mask. In order to stop the cycle, she has to discover who is trying (and succeeding) to kill her.
Rothe is also a main reason why this film works so well. Her lead performance is as engaging as it is excellent. She sells the eerie horror elements, while also delivering comedic lines with snappy ease. It is her shoulders upon which this film rests, and it’s because of her talents, and the talents of director Christopher Landon (who also directed Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, a crass horror/comedy about the zombie apocalypse), that this film manages to work as well as it does.
It may not be perfect, but at the end of the day, Happy Death Day is an immensely enjoyable watch. If you’re looking for something to watch for 90 minutes, and you want something quick, snappy, and funny, this movie is for you.