film reel image

film reel image

Friday, November 10, 2017

Happy Death Day 2017 * * Stars

Happy Death DayDirector: Christopher Landon
Year: 2017
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine

A snobby, college babe named Tree (played fiercely by Jessica Rothe) relives the same day over and over again by getting murdered via a fellow student. Tree's mission then becomes to find her killer and at the same time, try to be a better, overall person in the process. That's the rub of Happy Death Day, my latest review.

So OK, I gotta hand it to "Day". Despite having a tiny budget, unknown actors, and being minuscule in scope, this film has grossed over $78 million worldwide. That's pretty impressive. Yeah you probably won't deem it unforgettable the moment you leave the theater (I know I didn't). However, there are worse ways to spend five to ten bucks on a cold, November afternoon (or are there?).

Now if you've read the reviews, caught the opening Universal Pictures logo repeating itself, or have already seen Happy Death Day all the way through, you'll know that it apes 1993's Groundhog Day (obviousness reeks havoc as Bill Murray's name is attached in a wink wink ending). You can also throw in Edge of Tomorrow, facets of a 90's teen comedy, and Wes Craven's Scream for "Day's" manifest inspiration.

All in all, "Day" is nifty, campy, and devoid of being too grave. It's also restrained as a so-so horror film (hence the PG-13 rating). With minimal gore, side characters that range from dopey to spiteful, a bland gimmick of die/repeat, and some slight humor, Happy Death Day never feels scary or amusing enough (that honor would go to John Carpenter's Halloween).

Sure there's a whodunit element that keeps you guessing and director Christopher B. Landon profusely adds layers to his plot. Nevertheless, I can't quite go with a recommendation. Landon never times his scenes with Tree's 9-plus lives to make complete sense. His troupers around her find their marks but not every "Groundhog Day" effect feels totally in sync. Oh and I almost forgot, the editing in "Day" is swift and painless yet you don't know why Tree is going through the skewed, time continuum in the first place. Bewildered was my first and foremost thought.

Image result for happy death day movie scenesTypically, low budget scare fests find a way to be successful financially. With Happy Death Day, I get why fright fans salivated for an October release but I don't understand all the monetary love here. Rating: 2 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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