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REVIEW: "Happy Death Day"

Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Jessica Rothe stars in “Happy Death Day.”
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Rusty's Score
3 Rustys

Bad horror movies are a beautiful art form. Give me a bad horror movie over an okay or middle-of-the-road drama any day. Bad horror movies typically go all out, there’s no half-steppin' because their plot and character require them to embrace the screen with outlandish situations. Bad horror movies that know what they are, revel in the material and have a good time; Happy Death Day was one I was looking forward to for the wrong reasons. I wanted to have a ball trashing it for presumably being too serious, employing a gaggle of sorority girls to die in ways I’ve seen a hundred times, having excruciating on-the-nose needle drops, bad one-liners, everything.

Happy Death Day isn’t that. It’s actually a fuckin’ blast.

Theresa “Tree” Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) has a college life that doesn’t escape beyond sorority meetings of shaming members from eating breakfast, getting wasted at campus parties and sleeping with one of her professors. But today is her birthday, to which she doesn’t care because her late mother shares her birthday and no good thoughts are racing through her head. While reluctantly being dragged around town for an eventual surprise party, Tree gets stabbed and killed. When the knife is removed, she wakes up in the same random guy’s bed she woke up in that same morning… and he says the same thing to her… and it’s still the same day.

Tree somehow gets stuck in a time warp of reliving the same day and dying at the end of it (yes, like a Kappa Kappa Gamma version of Edge of Tomorrow or Groundhog Day, which the movie even references the similarities with) and must find a way to find out who is killing her to reverse the warp and live to see tomorrow.

Wish Upon was a spectacle for its inability to showcase actual humility or attempt to present its ridiculous story without a drip of sincerity or playfulness. Happy Death Day understands what it is and because of that, it’s an enjoyable little satirical horror movie. All the sorority girls’ prissy idiosyncrasies are turned up to unrealistic levels which spawn laugh-out-loud moments. Tree is shown to be like any of her other fratty girlfriends, but as the movie continues on and she keeps dying, her attitude is changed into a detailed character you cheer for.

It’s not something you should rush out to see or even a movie that’s entirely memorable, but it’s not a terrible way to spend a night watching it. Happy Death Day clocks in a little over 90 minutes and never meanders — as much as a movie where a character gets killed with a broken bong, can be.

If the film was marketed more as a light-hearted, snarky and self-aware comedy-horror movie instead of going with advertisements showing it as a semi-serious slasher film, it might have more of an audience other than teenager crowd that thought they were gonna see girls named Rebekkah get slaughtered by a creepy killer.

The story does collapse onto itself when it tries to throw unnecessary plot twists and jumps out of its self-aware shell to try to deliver a “compelling” third act that it doesn’t earn or even need. Just keep throwing Tree in funny situations that the audiences have to piece together how she will die.

I can see Happy Death Day bringing a small cult following of sorts like recently millennial based horror movieUnfriended did if it gets thrown on Netflix next year. Jessica Rothe brings an enjoyable performance and all those that pad out the film aren’t bad either. It’s an above-average horror-comedy that could have been a lot worse. It’s a fun enough movie that should entertain all of those that are interested in it.

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About the Author

Kevin Tudor

Born and raised in the mean streets of Yukon, Oklahoma, Kevin is currently majoring in...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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