Who knew Death could be so fun
Following Spilt & Get Out, Universal Pictures & Blumhosue productions continue their successful 2017 horror run with their latest release Happy Death Day. Tree Gellban (Jessica Rothe) is your typical college sorority girl experiencing the highs & lows of college life. As Happy Death Day opens up, Tree wakes up in Carter's dorm room (Israel Broussard), who she instantly blows off, despite Carter's good nature. Later that night, which happens to be her birthday, Tree is murdered by an unseen assailant. The next day, Tree wakes up and begins to relive the day of her murder with both of its unexceptional details and terrifying end until she discovers her killer's identity.
This year, we saw two films, the Marlon Wayans Netflix comedy Naked and the teen angst drama Before I Fall. Both use the protagonist trapped in a time loop as their central plot device to mixed results; however, Happy Death Day doesn't make the two former films mistakes. The script is smart, the kills are fun to watch, the humor is sharp, and the reveal of how to get out of the time loop is a satisfying one. While Happy Death Day does have a PG-13 rating, don't let that deter you from seeing the film. Like 2015's The Final Girls, Happy Death Day fully embraces the PG-13 rating in a winning campy sort of way, which works in its favor.
Rothe, who had a small role in last year's La La Land, gets a chance to shine in the lead role. Tree's journey & character are from stuck-up sorority girl to victim, to detective is a believable one. As Tree begins to evolve, so does her relationships with those around her. Rothe and Broussard also have great chemistry, and I found myself rooting for Carter to get the girl in the end.
The rest of the cast doesn't have that much to do outside of newcomer Rachel Matthews. As Danielle, the sorority leader, Matthews manages to steal every scene she's has in classic mean girl fashion. I wouldn't mind seeing Matthews in another slasher flick, as she has the mean girl character trait nailed down pat.
The film isn't without its flaws, though, as the third act includes an unnecessary subplot involving Tree's father. I could've done without that entire segment of the film and replaced it with more death scenes for Tree, or Tree playing detective as that is when the film is the most fun.
Mixing a slasher, fused with a good old-fashioned who done it the film never makes the mistake of over thinking the premise. Given that this is a PG-13 rated slasher, Happy De Day will be sure to give its intended audience just what they're looking for this Friday, the 13th.
Final Grade B+