Thursday, October 12, 2017

Happy Death Day - Review

Time has always been a tool for Hollywood to play with, in shots, scores, and narrative. Repeating the same day is not a stranger to film either, frequently featured in various manners of success and failure. In fact, 2017 has already seen one film use the repeated time technique to moderate success in Before I Fall earlier in the year. But to spin this tool into a horror film, a slasher film no less, could provide for some interesting possibilities.

Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) is a blissfully self-centered collegian who wakes up on her birthday in the bed of a student named Carter (Israel Broussard). As the morning goes on, Tree gets the eerie feeling that she's experienced the events of this day before. When a masked killer suddenly takes her life in a brutal attack, she once again magically wakes up in Carter's dorm room unharmed. Now, the frightened young woman must relive the same day over and over until she figures out who murdered her.

As one would expect, the plot structure is nothing new. Repeat the day over and over until one finally accepts the situation and gets to what they need to do to escape the nightmare. Though the story is hardly original, Happy Death Day is plenty enjoyable and crowd-pleasing to be worthwhile. Amongst all the repetition is this tongue in cheek language on horror films and even college settings themselves.

And a lot of it would fall flat if it weren’t for the only true noteworthy performance in the film; Jessica Rothe. The actress gets a standard character with typical development, but she goes for the big moments and sells the comedy and horror tremendously well. Carrying the film is an understatement here as even the killer, adorned in a fairly creepy mask, is unmemorable.

Though in the end Happy Death Day is hardly even a horror film at all. Yes, there are elements and the good ole jump scare here or there, but the scares pale in comparison to the comedic moments. It’s not a slasher film like one would believe, only Tree knows anything is going on, so the film becomes a singular perspective and thus the terror is very limited to just her experience. But all in all, it works. That is until the third act twist kind of screws up everything that came prior, making little sense within the context of what had happened.

Overall, Happy Death Day is not a home run horror for the young month of October, but it’s not bad either. The comedic moments far outshine the horror, but the performance from Rothe allows for everything occurring in this repetitive scenario wholly hilarious the more outlandish the scenarios become. It’s unlikely anyone remembers this film over the coming years, but if you’re looking for an enjoyable, seasonally themed trip to the cinema, Happy Death Day will certainly get the job done.

So what did you think of Happy Death Day? Have you seen it? Are you interested in seeing it? Subscribe, share, comment below, and as always return to I Am Sam for weekly reviews and insight.

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