If you’re expecting a slasher or a scary, horrific movie, you should probably look elsewhere. Happy Death Day, the latest release from horror production company Blumhouse, is the most recent example of “nu horror,” which usually consists of lots of humour and clever, on-point dialogue, and it’s not so much about the scares as it is about the laughs.
As seen in the trailer for Happy Death Day, lead character Tree (Jessica Rothe) is caught in a killing loop; she keeps reliving the same day (her birthday), and is killed by a mysterious person in a mask in different ways each time. The only possibility to make it stop is if she figures out who the killer is. Think Groundhog Day, but with murder.
That sounds remarkably dumb.
Doesn’t it? The amazing thing is it acknowledges that it’s dumb, and you’re supposed to have low expectations going in. Despite its wobbly premise and ludicrous ending, somehow the movie manages to be so fun, you won’t mind the weak points. Funny from beginning to end, Happy Death Day has a great cast of unknowns. Consider that Tree lives the same day more than 10 times, and the movie still manages to mine the exact same material over and over for jokes. It succeeds, a feat all on its own.
Does the substance match the humour?
Unfortunately, no. Vastly superior horror movies Get Out and The Visit, both Blumhouse productions, carried with them a heavier weight. Get Out is a genius film, commenting on racism in America while delivering a superb horror product, and The Visit took a ho-hum premise and made it electric (and scary!). Happy Death Day has no hidden or important message. It is what it is.
That said, the movie contains other Blumhouse trademarks: humour, excellent dialogue, saturated colours, appealing characters and a quick running time.
Is there any gore at all?
Very little. There are one or two glimpses of deaths, but they’re tame compared to your typical grotesque horror. This movie is all in good fun, so aside from some violent person-on-person combat, for the most part anyone should be able to handle this. Again, it’s not about the scares. It’s about figuring out whodunit.
So what’s the bottom line?
This movie won’t win any awards, but dang is it ever funny. Fans of the genre will have a good time trying to figure out what’s going on, and Rothe is engaging enough in the lead role to keep you attached. A great date movie (do people go on those anymore?) and an even better movie for those of college age, you may roll your eyes at some of the things that happen, but you’ll laugh the whole way through.
‘Happy Death Day’ is now playing in theatres across Canada.