The insufferable, blonde sorority girl, Theresa “Tree” Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) of “Happy Death Day” must uncover who is behind her murder and how to stop reliving the day over and over. After waking up on the morning of her birthday in Carter’s (Israel Broussard) dorm room after a drunken hookup, Tree lives out her average day until she is murdered by a masked killer. After the gruesome stabbing, she wakes up in Carter’s room again on the morning of her birthday. Tree is forced to repeat her birthday and day of her murder until she solves this “whodunit” case.
The crazy-unrealistic character development of Tree is absurd. After living through the day of her murder numerous times, she starts to question the way she treats others. Tree starts the film dreading her birthday because it is shared with her deceased mother, whom she deeply misses, but she greatly suppresses her feelings. She acts out by ignoring her father’s calls, turning over all photographs in her room of her and her mother, and rarely mentioning the passing. After repeating the day enough times, she helps a friend come out of the closet, starts calling her father, stands up to her overbearing sorority president, falls for Carter and opens up to him about the death of her mother, and stops hooking up with her married professor.
The movie’s theme was written on a cliche sticker on Carter’s door that said, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” When the theme is that obvious and leaves little room for interpretation, you know it’s going to be a bad film. The final murder reveal was one of the most unsatisfying endings ever because of the killer’s ridiculous motive. The sloppy wrap-up made “Happy Death Day” into a forgettable film.
“Happy Death Day” wasn’t all downhill, though. The only two aspects keeping me from walking out were: the interactions between the thoughtful Carter and the cold-hearted Tree, and trying to piece together the murder-mystery. However, the reveal of the murderer was very disappointing. Another highlight was the film’s self-awareness. “Happy Death Day” was written and directed by Christopher Landon, who was clearly inspired by “Groundhog Day,” to the point where it’s mentioned in the film.
The concept for “Happy Death Day” is unoriginal, but trying to solve your own murder case or be doomed to repeat your death is horrifying. The execution was poor, as Landon chose to pick college students and a university as the setting which led to unbelievable and uninteresting archetypal characters. Look no further than “Happy Death Day” for a mediocre horror film.
Featured Photo: Tree is cursed to repeat her murder over and over in “Happy Death Day.” UNIVERSAL PICTURES.