“Happy Death Day” directed by Christopher Landon falls into a new subcategory of horror, young adult horror. Premiering on Oct. 13 or Friday the 13th, the film was a highly anticipated flick, especially among teenagers. The story follows a college student who must relive the day of her death that occurs on her birthday over and over until she uncovers her murderer. It’s funny, occasionally predictable, but overall an enjoyable film.
The film kicks off with the main character, Tree Gelbman, played by Jessica Rothe, waking up in classmate, Carter Davis’s, played by Israel Broussard, dorm room. Tree goes about her day being rude to her roommate and peers, dodging calls from her father, maintaining fake relationships with her sorority sisters, and engaging in an illicit affair with one of her professors.
During the evening, Tree is murdered by a mysterious figure in a baby mask while walking to a surprise birthday party being held for her. Following her murder, she wakes up only to live the exact same day as before. Despite various attempts to avoid death, Tree continues to die and relive the day over and over again. With the help of Carter, Tree concludes that the only way to break the cycle is to discover the identity of her murderer and stop them.
As the film opened, it was obvious to audiences the content of Tree’s character. She is shallow, promiscuous, and entirely narcissistic, treating all around her with little respect. Yet as the story progresses and with each passing death, Tree grows as a person and attempts to fix all of the relationships and problems in her life. She utilizes her repeat days to not only find her killer, but also become a better person.
The overall plot and meaning of the story is cliché and predictable, the shallow girl goes on a path of redemption and self-discovery to become an admirable person. Yet the film was enjoyable in that their delivery of a derivative message was portrayed in a refreshing and original storyline. Writer, Scott Lobdell utilized the horror genre to teach teens the importance of being a virtuous and honest person. While the film was less horror and more young adult, it was still incredibly entertaining with occasional jump scares, a number of plot twists, and various horror elements.
The casting was also well done and each actor gave a genuine and believable performance. Rothe’s portrayal of the self-involved sorority girl is original in that her delivery is not over the top or overly dramatic. In addition, the actress ensured Tree’s transition and growth throughout the course of the movie was not sudden or startling but rather gradual, allowing audiences to truly see her personal journey. Broussard also gave a stellar performance as the dorky and sweet boy with a crush on Tree. Both actors added depth to their characters by adding humor and quirks.
Overall, “Happy Death Day,” is a thoroughly enjoyable film. It may not be a favorite for hardcore horror lovers, but is definitely a must see for teens. A hybrid between teen fiction and horror, “Happy Death Day” seamlessly blends romance, comedy, personal growth, and fright into one remarkable film. For horror fans and scaredy cats alike, “Happy Death Day” is an entertaining must-see for the month of October.
Photo Credits: Universal Pictures