Happy Death Day (2017) Horror Movie Review


“Happy Death Day,” directed by Christopher Landon and released in 2017, offers a refreshing take on the slasher genre by incorporating a time-loop narrative, reminiscent of the classic “Groundhog Day.” The film follows Tree Gelbman, portrayed by Jessica Rothe, who finds herself reliving the same day repeatedly, each time ending with her murder by a masked assailant. The only way to break the cycle is to identify her killer.

The movie opens with a clever nod to its time-loop premise, with the Universal logo restarting mid-revolution, setting the tone for the audience’s expectations. What unfolds is a blend of horror, comedy, and mystery that keeps viewers engaged through its brisk pacing and inventive storytelling.

Jessica Rothe delivers a starmaking performance, bringing depth and nuance to Tree, a character who could easily have been a one-dimensional sorority girl stereotype. Her transformation from self-centered to self-aware is compelling and serves as the emotional backbone of the film. The supporting cast, including Israel Broussard as Carter, provides a solid foundation for the story, with each character introducing potential clues to the killer’s identity.

Critics have praised “Happy Death Day” for its dark humor and the sci-fi spin it puts on slasher conventions. The film manages to balance the terror of Tree’s predicament with a light-hearted tone, avoiding the trap of becoming too grim or too silly. It’s a delicate balance that Landon navigates successfully, making the film accessible to a broader audience, including those who might not typically enjoy horror.

The film’s PG-13 rating allows it to reach a younger demographic, and while it may not deliver the gore that some horror aficionados crave, it compensates with clever writing and a focus on suspense over bloodshed. The result is a horror film that can be enjoyed for its puzzle-like plot and the fun of piecing together the mystery alongside Tree.

“Happy Death Day” isn’t without its flaws. Some critics have pointed out that it doesn’t fully embrace its absurd premise, missing opportunities for either scarier set pieces or more playful self-awareness. However, these criticisms don’t detract significantly from the overall enjoyment of the film.

In the Nutshell

“Happy Death Day” is a smart and entertaining film that breathes new life into the slasher genre. It’s a movie that knows what it is and who it’s for, and it delivers on its promise with wit and a twisty plot. For those looking for a horror film with a difference, “Happy Death Day” is a must-watch. I give 4 out of 5 stars.

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Genre: Murder Mystery

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