Released: 20th October 2017
Directed By: Christopher Landon
Starring: Isbaelle Rothe
Reviewed By: Van Connor
The latest effort from micro-budget horror titans Blumhouse, time-loop slasher flick Happy Death Day may largely be positioned as a hybrid of Groundhog Day and Scream by its (admittedly, fun) marketing campaign, but in execution it plays a lot closer to a fusion of Edge of Tomorrow (shut up, that’s its title…) and Final Destination than anything else. And, to be fair, that’s a pretty damn enjoyable mash-up for a flash-in-the-pan fun-and-furious ninety minute murder romp.
Paranormal Activity alum Christopher Landon takes the directorial reins for this goofy slash-em-up, in which Isabelle Rothe stars as bitchy sorority girl, Tree, who wakes up from a drunken one-nighter only to face a minutia-filled birthday that abruptly ends with her murder at the hands of a masked killer. Instantly waking up back in the bed of her previous conquest and, confusingly, facing her birthday all over again, Tree soon discovers she’s stuck in her own personal time-loop, given a reset button that kicks into effect each and every time she meets her grizzly demise.
Those who lived through the nineties invasion of time-loop movies (Groundhog Day, 12:01, Retroactive, et al) will find themselves fitting reliving that sensation once more with this unchallenging but unquestionably fun tale that bolsters something of a minor star-making turn from the unexpectedly impressive Rothe. Rothe, looking like this week’s Blake Lively, is startlingly adept at mining the relatively predictable arc of Tree’s transition from bitchy it-girl to fully-fledged human and dredging up something genuinely engaging to work with. Of all the female leads Blumhouse features have sported thus far (and there are more than you’d think…), Rothe’s hands-down the cream of the crop – even rising above having a preposterously daft name that in no way fits anything else in the movie.
Alas, Landon’s the star here, propped up by a pretty pithy screenplay by writer Scott Lobdell. Landon – himself the writer of Disturbia and four of the Paranormal Activity flicks – gets the aesthetic needed to keep Happy Death Day wisely balanced on the line between slasher movie and straight-up college comedy. Lobdell, of course, proves the bedrock to this – his script unafraid to indulge both elements where needed and, despite indulging cliché here and there, having the moderate decency to enjoy itself at it does – its scares sharp, its murders suitably gruesome, and its laughs hearty. Doubtless set to become one of the mainstream gems of the Blumhouse crown, Happy Death Day’s a goofy grizzly delight – unashamed to be silly, unafraid to be brutal, it’s a hell of a timeloop.