The Morrigan, Contributing Editor
Dir. Christopher Landon (2017)
The birthday girl relives her special day over and over...except she keeps dying.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Full disclosure: I LOVE this movie. I've watched it at least 10 times, and it never gets old. It's a great blend between funny and slasher. Jessica Rothe (Tree) is the perfect sorority girl: mean, vapid, self-involved, and a total bitch. She's got biting comments and dirty looks for everyone until she starts getting murdered and reliving the same day (and death) every day.
The movies opens with Tree waking up in random guy's room, not even bothering to listen when he tries to tell her his name, then does the walk of shame through campus. Well, not the walk of shame for her, she doesn't give a shit. She goes about her day, shaming another sorority girl for eating sweets, running into her random hook-up, who wasn't a hook up after all. The guy, Carter (Israel Broussard), is actually a really nice guy. She is however, sleeping with her professor. Like I said, a really sweet girl. She closes out her day on the way to a party when she sees someone in street in a baby face mask who promptly chases her down and kills her. Her alarm (the most annoying happy birthday song on the planet) goes off the next morning and she wakes up in Carter's room, thinking she's had a nightmare and goes about her day with a serious case of deja vu. That night she is killed again. Wake up in Carter's room, rinse and repeat.
Creepy baby mask and apparent college mascot
Only it isn't rinse and repeat. As the movie progresses and Tree realizes she's stuck in the same day, we're treated to a Confident by Demi Lovato montage, with Tree doing her best stomping Top Model catwalk. Tree does all of those things you'd do if you had unlimited lives like solve world hunger, create world peace, just kidding, she farts and burps, dyes her hair and walks around campus naked. What I do appreciate about these deja vu days is, they're not all the same. Tree does totally different things with totally different results, even the way she dies changes, but she does always die, and always wakes up in Carter's room. It's sort of like The Butterfly Effect but the end doesn't change. I'm pretty sure it's more like Groudhog Day, but I haven't seen the whole thing, so I really don't know. I know, I know it's a travesty. Whatever, it's just not high on my watch list.
The groundhog is pretty cute
Tree tells Carter what's going on and he sort of believes her and helps her make a list of suspects Kill Bill style, red marker and all and she spends the movie tracking them all down and getting killed anyway. Once her injuries start catching up with her, her doctor (aka Professor Sleeps With My Students) tells her that after looking at her x-rays, she should be dead, which is shocking news to someone who keeps dying every day. No matter how hard she tries to outwit this killer, she can't. Besides this being a great slasher movie, it also has some really sweet moments where she's clearly falling for Carter, who genuinely tries to help Tree, even though he can't remember the day before. We also learn that her relationship with her dad is very strained, she and her mom share the same birthday and that her mom was killed by a serial killer. All of this information is meant to soften Tree's mean girl image, but it falls short. Even on her do over days. she's still got that mean girl edge to her.
Tree does start to come to the realization that she's not a good person. Carter tells her that every day is a chance to be a good person, and by the end of the movie, we finally start to see a change. She starts to resolve her demons, she does a new catwalk stomp to Love Stuck by Mother Mother, and Tree does all the right things during her never ending day, positive that today will be different. Spoiler alert, it isn't.
I won't spoil the ending for you, it's funny enough to keep it a surprise. All in all, Happy Death Day is a fun movie. It's not a new or original concept, but it does still feel fresh. The kills are entertaining, Jessica Rothe plays the sorority girl character to perfection, and Israel Broussard is just about the most likeable person on the planet. I highly recommend this one if you're looking for a light hearted slasher.