Live. Die. Repeat. Do you happen to remember Tom Cruise’s 2014 sci-fi action adventure, Edge of Tomorrow? It was a damn good movie that suffered from an unfortunate marketing identity crisis. The title did not fit with what the film was trying to portray, worse yet, the studio couldn’t quite settle on a title. As a matter of fact, the title is only displayed during the closing credits. When it was released for home enjoyment, the causal moviegoer might have missed it entirely since the name was changed to Live Die Repeat: The Edge of Tomorrow. In terms of time loop movies, it has been one of the best, regardless of the PR flub. Happy Death Day appears to be spot on with its title but does it have substance behind it to make for a fun Friday the 13th?
Tree’s (Jessica Rothe) day starts off great. Why would it not? After all, it’s her birthday and Tree is looking forward to day filled with fun. We don’t always get what we wish for. Before this day ends, Tree meets an untimely demise at the hands of a masked murderer. This where the crazy fun begins. As life is extinguished from her eyes, they open once again to a familiar scene. She’s alive and well and about to start her day, the same day she just lived…and died. Tree is doomed to repeat the same day unless she solves the mystery of her murder BEFORE it happens or die trying (again).
If you’ve seen any of the many advertisements for Happy Death Day you should know that Blumhouse Productions and Universal Studios are serious about this horror thriller. As they did with Get Out (2017) earlier this year, moviegoers should be in for a real treat when seeing this one as well. The story itself is more solid than you might think. One common knock on more recent movies, especially in the horror genre, is that they suffer from lazy writing. You get paper thin plots that don’t hold up to much scrutiny because hope is that the gratuitous offerings of sex and/or violence will be enough to entertain the narrow minded.
There is good on screen chemistry between the actors, many of which you’ve probably never noticed before. Jessica Rothe (La La Land (2016)) plays her role convincingly. At first you cannot stand her bratty, bitchy behavior. Then, a little while later, you’re for her not to meet the business end of a random killer object. Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine and Rachel Matthews also co-star. Like I said, not big names but you don’t need to be in a movie such as this one, as long as you bring your acting skills that is.
Happy Death Day often switches gears bringing with it a sense of mystery and intrigue. You won’t be able to accuse director Christopher Landon (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015)) of playing it safe. There are many other elements to this story that will keep you hooked. There are many subplots that eventually get resolved, which is pleasing to see. The creative side to this type of movie makes it fun and I feel that fun is this movie’s strongest attribute. Everyone likes to have fun, even in a “horror” movie. Heck, ESPECIALLY in a horror movie.
At 96 minutes, Happy Death Day doesn’t make grandiose plans of trying to be the best movie ever. No, it simply tries to entertain its audience and give them an experience that is worth their dollar. In that respect, this movie delivers in a way that will make glad you ventured out to see it this Halloween season. And don’t be too bummed about the PG-13 rating because it’s still got a little edge to it. Oh, and last but not least, you’ll probably want to stay seated once the credits start to roll. Thankfully you don’t have to wait an exorbitant amount of time to see what I’m referring to. Catch it in theaters now.