Directed by Christopher Landon [Other horror films: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014), Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015), Happy Death Day 2U (2019), Freaky (2020)]
When I say that this movie was one of the biggest surprises in the last few years, I totally mean it. This was a pretty big movie when it came out, and beforehand it garnered quite a bit of hype, but after glancing cursorily at the plot, I didn’t find it interesting. Having finally seen the movie, though, I can definitely say that I had quite a fun time with it.
I mean, there was just a lot of hilarious stuff here. The montage of death sequences, concluding with Jessica Rothe’s Tree character stating that Israel Broussard’s Carter’s plan “totally sucked” was funny, but even more amusing was Jessica Rothe’s character turning into Emma Stone’s from Easy A. Strutting around naked just because, or convincing the closeted gay guy to be himself (her reaction when she discovered he was gay was really funny, too), or pushing back on the sorority chick for fat-shaming another girl, or her dialogue while trying to get arrested (“I’m drunk. Wasted. And I’m high, ya know, pills, weed. You name it, man, I’m on it”), Rothe’s character here was fantastic in the latter part of the film, and it’s no stretch to say I had so much fun with this.
Happy Death Day is more than that, though. There’s not a whole lot of great timey wimey based horror films (Timecrimes comes to mind, and maybe Triangle, but really, what else has the genre got?), so that in itself was unique. And starting with a stereotypically terrible sorority girl, and over the course of the same multiple days turning her into a sympathetic character with depth (her conversation with her father on one of her last days before the loop broke was fantastically emotional) was a fantastic idea.
Central among important characters are those played by Jessica Rothe and Israel Broussard. Though it takes something like forty minutes for the two of them to really make a connection, I think it’s definitely sweet when they do, because Israel’s nice-guy attitude is so far removed from Jessica’s crass and loud personality, though at that point, she’s desperate for help wherever she can find. After the karma discussion with Carter, Tree attempts to make amends for the life she’s been leading, and it’s just heart-warming, especially the aforementioned discussion with her father.
A lot of the kills here aren’t that great, but there’s a few ones worth noting, such as the car explosion and taking a baseball bat to the head (which leads to a pretty good scene transition to Tree waking up again, still in the loop). I won’t say many others are amazing, but it’s the story of the film and the characters that make this such a good movie, and it certainly works.
The one weak portion here is the identity of the killer. I do prefer it over Tree’s original idea of it being a random serial killer who happens to be in the area, but the justification behind the killer’s actions strikes me as weak. That said, it could accurately be stated that the killer is somewhat psychotic, so though the reason seems somewhat small, it still makes sense.
Regardless, I enjoyed this movie so much more than I thought I would, and it’s a definite winner in my eyes. It’s just a shame that it took me as long as it did to see this one.