Capturing the cult slasher spirit we know so well and love, Happy Death Day takes its Groundhog Day premise and splashes a wave of exuberant, millennial horror into the mix. Directed by Christopher Landon, known also for Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and The Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, Happy Death Day knows exactly what kind of film it is, and uses this to its advantage. Packed full of horror tropes, clichés and a painfully generic heterosexual romance, what Death Day lacks in originality, it makes up for in comedic, (almost feminist) girl power.
The film follows Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe), a typical, dick-ish college student trapped in time, reliving the same day over. The day just so happens to be her birthday, of course, resulting in the biggest crime this film commits; its title.
Hungover, disgruntled and in no rush to celebrate her birthday; Tree begins her day as normal. Only to be aggressively murdered later, restarting her death day again, and again, and again. What follows is a fun, slightly offbeat ‘whose the killer?’ tale rich full of empowerment, but lacking in gore. Barely any blood or guts in sight, Death Day clings to its slasher title with a series of violent deaths throughout (death by glass bong being my personal favourite).
As Tree fights to figure out what exactly is going on, and who is attempting to kill her, her character develops. From a stereotypical ‘sassy’ millennial, with no regard for others to an empathetic, emotionally (and environmentally) aware bad ass, who takes no shit. Rothe carries the film, providing Tree with that lovable edge. It screams feminist, but is void of any real moral lessons, clear-cut lessons or feminist ideologies. Instead, the film puts forth a pretty simple ‘don’t be a dick’ moral.
The film shakes off its initial annoying impression with a playful ease, delivering on everything you’ve already anticipated, and more. Numerous twists aid in keeping it fresh and silly. Fast paced and packed full of fun O.T.T violence, it’s hard to not enjoy. Happy Death Day is a quirky homage to the genre. But nothing more. Yet another male directed-female led horror, lacking in anything new or diverse; Happy Death Day is a surprisingly enjoyable Halloween flick that mocks itself before you get the chance.
by Kelsie Dicksinson
Kelsie Dickinson is a 21 year old super-gay film student at UCLAN in Preston. She writes part-time for her uni’s paper The Pulse and is a lover of any indie horrors and films with nice lighting. Her favourite films are Lost in Translation, the original Evil Dead and It Follows. You can follow her on twitter @punkrocket_ and under the same user on instagram.