Written By: Fernando Martinez…
Ok, let me start off by saying that “Happy Death Day” is not a great movie., although there are a lot of great things about it. However, given the genre, I had a fantastic time watching it. Although it feels more like an extended episode of whatever show is on the CW now, this horror/drama/comedy packs its fair share of good fun.
So the premise is simple. It’s Groundhog Day (the movie, not the holiday), but in college with murder and a sorority girl at its focus point. There’s some teen drama involved, but it’s more of a passing thought than a plot point. Speaking of missing plot points, there’s a dead mother and a strained relationship with a father, along with a bit of drugs and dating references that never get developed. But they add some slight humanity to this otherwise gimmick driven film.
All that stated, the gimmick works REALLY well. So this sorority girl is murdered and she lives the same day over and over again. We have no idea why, but she needs to solve her own murder. In the meantime, she learns how to be a better person and all that jazz. So the gimmick, yes, we are seriously just doing the Bill Murray thing again, but it’s a twisted blast. You get invested in how she’ll die this time, what quirky things she’ll do different, and how this puzzle gets put together after all the repetition. None of this would be possible without an absolutely joyful performance by Jessica Rothe as the trapped-in-time heroine. She brings multiple dimensions to the character, and she’s definitely the glue that keeps this whole film together.
The real saving grace to this movie is that it never takes itself too seriously. At times, it can be downright hilarious and even delightfully self-aware. It somehow manages to find a great balance between all these different teen genres. And that’s really what it’s all about. Given the kind of mindless drivel that’s usually fed to the teen audience (i.e., the Bye Bye Man), it’s quite refreshing to see something that, although is not entirely original, truly is novel.
People I know probably won’t see this in theaters (because, you know, we’re old,) but this is destined to be a movie you run across on Netflix one day and think, “whoa, that was a lot better than I thought it would be.” Honestly, the more I write, the more I want to watch it again, and I get the weirdest feeling that tomorrow I will relieve this day again, and again, and again, until I have somehow written a perfect review.