Today we’re talking about the 2017 movie Happy Death Day.
I’m frankly shocked and surprised that it took this long for someone to combine the slasher and the Groundhog Day concepts. It’s a beautiful mashup that works because these two sub-genres and surprisingly compatible. They both traditionally have horrible stuff happen to the main characters, they both usually involve death, and they usual end happily for at least one character.
This story works, not because of the twist, but because of how heavily it leans into the tropes.
Now that being said the first two loops are set up really slowly, however anyone who’s seen the trailer knows by the second day that the tension isn’t from the slashing but the loop.
The characters are mostly stereotypes with a few little tweaks. This is a weakness of both sub-genres. Because you live the same day over and over again, only one character develops, leaving the entire emotional outcome of the movie on the shoulders of the main character and their massive development.
Tree’s the heart of the film and without her and us feeling for her, this movie would fall flat. Thankfully it didn’t and she is awesome.
A lot of the characters are superfluous and feel like unused threads. The Vietnamese girl who sits outside the sorority house is a good example of an unused character.
The dialogue was quick, quip-y, and felt right for the characters. It’s fun but not poetry or super memorable.
You’ll laugh, but you won’t be quoting this one in twenty years.
Visuals and Music
The music is very much from a slasher but it’s unobtrusive and works really well. Visually this movie doesn’t need to be anything beyond a B horror style but doesn’t rest on expectations. The compositions, cuts, and references to other movies is fantastic. The transition where Tree gets hit by a baseball bat and falls into the next day is beautiful on it’s own, but the fact that it’s directly referencing a similar transition in Groundhog Day makes it ever so much better.
I love slashers and I love Groundhog Day style stories. This movie delivers exactly what I wanted from all of it and has a nice little twist. I’m very glad they changed the ending to what we see in the theatrical version.
Once it got going I didn’t even consider looking at my phone. High praise, considering it was my second viewing.
This is a movie that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and it certainly isn’t high cinema but it is exciting, smart, fun, and funny. If you like slashers or Groundhog Day stories, you’ll love this movie.
Final Score: 3.5 out of 5
We reviewed the movie on Silver Stag Entertainment‘s Aurora Nominated show Nights at the Round Table.