Happy Death Day—a horror movie about being killed over and over again on your birthday—is actually pretty good.
This whodunit slasher effectively borrows the live, die, repeat formula from previous films like Edge of Tomorrow (and Groundhog Day minus the dying) presenting us with a final girl who, interestingly enough, still dies repeatedly.
Jessica Rothe plays Theresa. Theresa is not a good person. If anything Theresa—at least from the start of the film—better fits the “bitchy blonde who dies first” stereotype in horror movies than the profoundly rooted for final girl.
That’s the best part of Happy Death Day; a character we’re so immediately prepped to hate and her transformation into the untouchable bad-ass. Unfortunately for Theresa, the road to becoming the bad-ass final girl required a whole lot of dying. Theresa painfully keeps reliving her birthday, a day that ultimately keeps ending in her death at the hands of a hooded killer in a baby mask. Some of the early death scenes were entertaining, but as the movie went on the emphasis was more on the killers potential identity instead of more common horror movie fare.
Adding to some of my small frustrations with Happy Death Day is the lack of explanation around exactly why Theresa is stuck in this treacherous time-loop. Writer Scott Lobdell teases with the idea that perhaps it’s because Theresa is a real asshole to everyone, but that idea is thrown away entirely towards the very end of the film. My expectation was there would be a somewhat acceptable pay-off around that concept. Unfortunately, there was not.
Happy Death Day isn’t exactly a horror film, though. In fact, it’s pretty difficult to determine what genre this movie really fits into. If you’re going in expecting a scary movie, you will be let down. If you’re going in expecting a flawed but entertaining quasi-slasher, you just might enjoy it.