“Happy Death Day” is the latest entry in Blumhouse Productions’ huge catalog of horror (and occasionally other genre) films. It’s one of six this year, actually, and thankfully better than most horror films in recent memory.
The gimmicks in the plot of “Happy Death Day” help it stand out as more than just another horror movie. The premise of the film is sweet and simple: a college student, Tree, keeps waking up to the same day. This sudden reincarnation, however, comes with the price of being hunted down and killed by a mysterious masked murderer.
Also, this looped day happens to take place on her birthday. Oh my.
Appropriate to its ridiculous narrative, “Happy Death Day” is more of a horror-comedy blend than a pure scary movie. Though the horror angle is played fairly straight for the first chunk of the movie, there are plenty of moments of levity scattered throughout that help keep the tone fun and enjoyable.
Neither the pure horror or horror-comedy ideas are fully embraced, though, making the film suffer from somewhat of a lost identity. For what it’s worth, I did enjoy the wholesome comedy bits more than the suspenseful, scary moments — but neither category was bad by any means. Jessica Rothe, as Tree, is able to sell both kinds of moments well.
There are some strange creative choices that make the viewing experience a little awkward, though. Weird, jumpy continuity edits jarred me too repeatedly and frequently to be able to ignore them. Characters would suddenly and instantly be in positions that should feel like 10 seconds away, which was incredibly distracting.
Worst of all, the film never delivers on the inclusion of 50 Cent’s “In da Club” as it promises in the trailers. I would be lying if I said that this wasn’t the primary reason I was sold on the movie.
The film also leans on some annoying horror tropes that take away from the more humorous aspects. Bad dialogue, 30-year-olds playing teenagers, trite stereotypes of said college teenagers and of course, plenty of jump scares can be found in “Happy Death Day.” If you can roll along with these tropes, the film is a pretty good time.
While it’s not the best horror entry this year — that honor likely goes to Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” — “Happy Death Day” is an enjoyable enough addition to this year’s spooky festivities. It’s not amazing by any means, but not totally forgettable, either.
A solid, spooky recommend:
Hector Valverde is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He primarily writes movie reviews. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @hpvalverde.