October continues to chug along with the release of poor films, last week we had The Snowman and now we have this gold encrusted turd. It all begins with a question, what do you get when you combine Groundhog Day’s premise of a man reliving one day over and over again with a slasher akin to Scream? The answer is Universal Pictures new horror Happy Death Day starring Jessica Rothe and a bevy of attractive men and women that look like they’d be at home on the CW Network.
The story of Happy Death Day is a simple one, Theresa (Rothe) is a mean-spirited college student who wakes up from a bender with her frenemy Danielle. After leaving Carter (Israel Broussard) a hapless individual who she woke up to she makes her way to her sorority where she meets with her roommate who wishes her a happy birthday. Theresa dumps the homemade cupcake in the bin and continues to leave destruction in her wake as she seems to be part of an affair between herself and a married professor, she then berates Carter further when he tries to give her back a forgotten trinket of hers. When night falls she heads off to a party and on her way there a strange individual in a mask and hoodie attacks her and kills her, Theresa then wakes up in Carter’s room once again seemingly at the same point she found herself hours ago except she’s the only one that remembers the events of the day.
Happy Death Day is a lazy film, it’s as simple as that everything about this film has been done better by other films, television shows, and cartoons. The script is abysmal which is only compounded further when in the first half hour we’re seeing the same lines of dialogue repeated over and over again. Not only that but nothing happens in the first half hour that is the remote bit interesting, it’s all just set up for the clichéd moment in the film where Theresa will predict everything that happens to another character to prove a point.
The villain of the piece is an unapologetic rip off of Ghostface from Scream except instead of an eerie phantom visual we are treated to a single toothed baby face which just doesn’t work as well as it should. Between how some of the killing scenes are set up and how vicious Theresa is when the attacker comes in there is as much tension in the film as there was in Scary Movie. Another issue that came with this villain is the fact that they always know where Theresa is and appears where necessary to exact their bloody vengeance that is until Theresa hides in a carpark and the supposed inhuman abilities of this villainous force are halted by a well-placed column.
There are some positives Rothe is a charismatic lead and as we learn more about her she becomes a much more well-rounded character that at times has some engaging interactions, these are mainly between herself and Israel who plays Carter. Their performances stop this film from being a complete trainwreck but ultimately their performances are smothered by an unoriginal story, a lack of any kind of tension, and a nonsensical montage that shifts the tone of the film from a horror to a comedy undermining everything that came before and cutting the legitimacy of anything to come in the final act of the film.
With no genuine tension, a tonal shift midway through the film and hapless and uninteresting characters Happy Death Day is dead on arrival and should be avoided at all costs. I’ve had to say this far too much recently hopefully my next review will be of a much more positive nature until then if you’re looking for stories with a Groundhog Day-esque twist check out the following episode of Stargate, this episode of Supernatural and this anime Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World.