Magazine article Screen International

'Happy Death Day': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Happy Death Day': Review

Article excerpt

The latest from Blumhouse stars Jessica Roth as a sorority sister who is forced to relieve her own murder over and over again

Dir. Christopher Landon. US, 2017, 96 mins.

As a cycle of living, dying and repeating plagues a college student in Happy Death Day, viewers can be forgiven for feeling their own sense of déjà vu. Thankfully never taking itself too seriously, the latest Jason Blum-produced comedy-thriller is happy to carve out its spot as the horror-themed, millennial-focused Groundhog Day, and to have fun doing so. A dynamic lead performance and a willingness to keep things short and snappy also ensure viewers won’t mind venturing into rehash territory.

Bill Murray has been there and done that without his own homicide to solve

Indeed, fresh from It’s recent success and with Hallowe’en fast approaching, Universal will be hoping the timing is right for a slasher effort as pithy as its pop soundtrack. They should be rewarded with another Blumhouse hit after Split and Get Out, with Happy Death Day well-placed to get a foothold with its youthful target market before the latest Saw outing, Jigsaw, arrives in theatres - and it is also likely to find a sizeable post-theatrical audience via streaming.

In a genre filled with countless tales of unhinged killers stalking and slaying pretty young things, part of Happy Death Day’s appeal stems from both leaning into and playing with the usual tropes. From a few sly winks, to reiterating that it’s Monday the 18th, to a general Scream-like tone, it’s a film made with a clear awareness of genre history. When sassy sorority sister Tree (Jessica Rothe) is forced to relive her birthday endlessly, starting out in classmate Carter’s (Israel Broussard) dorm room and culminating with a run-in with a mask-wearing murderer, first she makes all of the usual decisions. Then, as she tries to put an end to getting killed over and over again, she doesn’t.

Beginning on the morning after a drunken night out, Tree’s day involves a regular array of college activities: stumbling home through the busy campus quadrangle, shrugging off the judgment of bossy house president Danielle (Rachel Matthews), declining a celebratory cupcake from her studious roommate Lori (Ruby Modine), and trying to get some lusty time alone with her professor Gregory (Charles Aitken). …

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