The latest film from horror producer Jason Blum has arrived in cinemas across the UK. I remember watching the trailer for Happy Death Day and being pleasantly surprised by it’s attempt at doing something, I hadn’t seen before in the slasher genre. From the moment I found out about the films Groundhog Day meets horror concept, I have been anticipating it ever since.
The film follows college student Theresa (Jessica Rothe) as she wakes up on the morning of her birthday, and proceeds to go about her day as usual. By the end of the day she gets murdered by someone wearing a mask, and as she is killed she wakes up at the beginning of the same day she just experienced. After realising that she is stuck in a loop of reliving the same day every time she gets murdered, she then starts to try and piece the clues together to work out who her murderer is, so that she can break the loop and prevent her own death.
Like I mentioned above, the overall concept of this film impressed me when I first saw the trailers because I have never seen, nor have I ever thought about applying this concept to a horror film. It seemed like quite a genius idea, but to my surprise I actually found this film quite dull. The film is marketed as a slasher horror film with this Groundhog Day twist to it but having seen the film, I’m struggling to even class it within that genre. There is no suspense and no scares throughout the whole film, there’s barely any effort made to build suspense and maintain it. There’s a distinct lack of sequences featuring her and the killer, it felt like his aspect was a bit of an afterthought which in turn robs the film of the potential to try and build suspense and generate scares. The focus is more on the day to day occurrences that keep reoccurring up until the point that she is murdered. There’s a comedic undertone to the film that didn’t really work for me, none of the outright jokes made me laugh. I thought the tone overall wasn’t a problem, I like that the film wasn’t taking itself too seriously, which did allow for some situational humour, in regards to her being aware of something that was going to happen before it occurred.
I have some major issues with the script but there are two redeeming qualities that this film has, one being Jessica Rothe’s lead performance, and the other being her overall character arc and development through out the story. Jessica brought Theresa to life on screen with a lot of charisma to the point where although I wasn’t that engaged with film overall, watching her performance was the only thing that made the experience bearable. The script handled her character pretty well, Jessica’s journey from the beginning of the film throughout the middle, and then to the end and how she changes as an individual was well done, it deserved to be within a better film, as does her performance.
The biggest issue I have is the script doesn’t utilise the mystery of who the killer is, to it’s full advantage to make the experience engaging and intriguing like I had expected it to be and like it should’ve been. I feel like if this concept was given to a better writer then they could’ve made the story a lot more interesting than it is here. One of the main priorities for a film of this nature should be to draw the audience into the mystery, and engage them so much that they are fully invested in trying to spot clues and uncover who the killer is along with the protagonist. I personally felt disengaged with the whole mystery and the script didn’t offer up enough clues for me to dissect as i was watching, to try and identify who the killer was. Once you then find out who it actually is it’s pretty disappointing, because then you realise that it was telegraphed to you early on in the film, and there’s nothing else throughout the story that would lead you to think it’s this person other than that one telegraphed scene early on. Whilst watching that scene I thought to myself it’s probably this person and then when it got to the reveal and I found out who it was, I didn’t even have a reaction, I didn’t find it surprising at all. That is very unfortunate because with a film like this you want the audience fully invested in this investigation, as if they are a detective trying to solve the murder so that when it’s revealed, you evoke an emotional response and reaction of some kind. This film absolutely failed to do that for me.
Overall Happy Death Day was a disappointment, the script failed to take full advantage of it’s concept to craft an engaging narrative. Jessica Rothe was great but unfortunately the rest of the film wasn’t on the same level as her performance.
(2 Stars Out of 5)
Happy Death Day – Starring Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard and Ruby Modine.
Directed by Christopher B. Landon.
Now showing in UK and US Cinemas.