Happy Death Day
What if a person had to re-live the same day over and over again? How does one cope with it? What is the cause? How is the cycle broken? This paradoxical scenario (at least in the movie world) is called a “time loop” or more commonly referred to as the “Groundhog Day” effect, which is a reference to the 1993 film of the same name. Not to be confused with time travelling, these features utilises the time loop scenario as a plot device – seeing a character re-living the same day (or timeline sequences) over and over in a perpetual, endless cycle. This is usually followed by this person attempting to break the “loop” by trying to get something right. Now, Universal Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, and director Christopher B Landon present the newest iteration of this premise with the film Happy Death Day.
College Student Theresa “Tree” Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) wakes up hungover on her birthday in Carter Davis’s (Israel Broussard) dorm room with pounding headache and a fuzzy memory of what happened the night before. Slinking back to her sorority, she is confronted by her vicious sister, Danielle Bouseman (Rachel Matthews), and is semi-reassured by her roommate, Lori Spengler (Ruby Modine), who is frustrated over Tree’s constant causal cruelty demeanour. Tree then proceeds through the day, including dealing with a first crush stalker, a professor she’s sleeping with, and pressure from her estranged father, who’s meeting her for a birthday dinner. However, the student brushes through these obstacles, focusing on herself and dishing out her snobbish and often self-centred remarks in every situation. Unfortunately, while she’s on her way to a party that night, Tree finds herself murdered by an unknown individual (wearing a mask of the school’s mascot…a baby), only to immediately wake again in Carter’s room at the beginning of the day with the cycle continuing in an endless loop. Confused and frightened, Tree sets out to solve her time loop, learning the day’s routine (going through a list of suspects and re-evaluating her daily events) and trying to figure out her murderer’s identity.
Director Christopher Landon newest film takes the time loop paradox plot device and presents it in a new light within a macabre humour/slasher construct that centres around a young college sorority girl. While the cast is good, especially Rothe, and it definitely has some particularly good moments, the film can’t escape its overly familiar overtones, narrative plot beats, the restricted violence due to its certificate, and silly scenes, which ultimately hamper the feature from reaching memorable status. It isn’t downright terrible and definitely has its moments here and there, but neither is it exceptionally remarkable. All in all, while the movie probably won’t go down as the best “time loop” feature film (that still belongs to 1993’s Groundhog Day), Happy Death Day does offer a bit of a distraction from the norm, creating a somewhat new twist in a classic formula – though that twist could have been more cleverly thought out.
Happy Death Day is released nationwide on 20th October 2017.
Watch the trailer for Happy Death Day here: