To Prepare You for 2, Here’s My Review of the First
I was too busy at the time of “Happy Death Day’s” release for me to review it, but given the release of “Happy Death Day 2U,” I’ve decided to check out the original. As exhausting as it tends to be, it splices “Groundhog Day” with “Scream,” and that ends up being enjoyable. Even the main character claims to not have seen “Groundhog Day.”
The movie stars Jessica Rothe (“La La Land”) as Tree Gelbman, a self-centered sorority sister, whose birthday is today. She has an affair with her married professor (Charles Aitken), and rejects a lot of people, including her father (Jason Bayle), her nurse roommate (Ruby Modine), and her classmate Carter (Israel Broussard). And later that evening, she finds a music box in a tunnel, and gets murdered by someone wearing a baby mask (the school mascot), and wakes up the next day, which turns out to be the same day.
It becomes “Groundhog Day” for her, a time warp to be exact, as she keeps living the same day over and over again. And each day, she gets murdered by the same character, in different ways. Now, she enlists the help of Carter to solve her own murder, and the only way is to keep dying. I mean: what else does she have to do?
“Happy Death Day” has the potential to be an iconic horror satire with its killer, heroine, and ambition. I admire the ways director Christopher Landon, producer James Blum, and writer Scott Lobdell give the movie a comical tone while ripping off such iconic classics. That’s the best part of the movie.
She does get a little annoying at times, but Rothe does a fine job playing Tree in the ways she starts off as a jerk and ends up changing her attitude. And you also get some wise supporting work from Broussard as the boy. These two have chemistry, and I actually found it to be kind of cute.
Is the movie a horror classic? No, because the horror movie cliches are routine, the jokes are lackluster, and it basically goes back to the same places. This is just Deja Vu.
Still, it has its heart in the right place, or wrong place, depending on the multiple murders. We may be seeing the same things over and over again, like in “Groundhog Day,” but that’s the fun of it.