"Tim, I know you're really not into girls. But it's okay. Love is love. Now go out there and get yourself a fine piece of man-ass!" - Tree Gelbman
Sorority chick Tree wakes up in the dorm room of college dweeb Carter Davis, who is so below her social level, so naturally she acts like a complete bitch and then leaves. Back in the sorority of the plastic chicks we learn its Tree's birthday, her roomie even gives her a cup cake with a single candle, and the sorority on mass are going to a party that evening and need to get there early so they don't miss out on all the cute guys. Naturally Tree is held up and has to go to the party on her own, oh and gets murder on the way. There you go quick movie with a ridiculously masked psycho.
Well actually Tree wakes up again in Carter's dorm room and is naturally a bit freaked out by the experience. She heads back to the sorority of the damned and we note the same things happening on the way that took place, uhmm, previously I guess, it's the same day. Rinse and repeat as Tree dies at the end of each day. She gradually comes to the realisation that she has to work out who is murdering her else she is doomed to repeat the same day over and over again. Just so happens that a psycho killer escapes from a local hospital, hence case done, well not quite. Time to throw ourselves under the bus and talk about a teen chick orientated horror movie, like right now you know.
Firstly I'm not going to pretend that I can view this movie as a chick, teen or otherwise, sorry transgender folk but you are either born a woman or you really are never going to get the full range of emotions the gals have. By all means frock up, no skin off my nose, but be a tad more realistic. So how am I going to be rocking this, well I'm going to just put things in neutral and try to see if I can't get beyond the obvious problems folk, and by folk I mean adult dudes, are going to have with the flick. So let's get down to it, when is a slasher not quite a slasher, roll on up to the picture show.
Firstly, like any good slasher, the movie has a masked killer, though said killer isn't sticking to one modus operandi, hell no, what either is at hand gets utilised. So we get the requisite death by stabbing, but also by being burnt alive, hung, and poisoning amongst other methods. Disappointingly I didn't remember a machete in use, but hey you can't have everything. And got to say the mask in use is pretty dopey, but this being set on a college campus there was no real surprise that the resident mascot would be used for more dubious purposes.
To the victims, and here is the first indication that this ain't no regular slasher, besides a few randoms who get in the way there is only one real victim, the much put upon Tree. So it's sort of like a slasher, except rather than the masked killer coming back from apparent death time and time again it's the victim who is resurrecting like it's going to go out of fashion. Jason just says this is wrong, all wrong. Personally I thought this was a pretty nifty concept, and was rolling to the premise as soon as it got going.
Okay to keep the chicks happy with life there is a romance happening, so bust a move to your local DVD place and pick the movie up ladies. Guess Israel Broussard's Cart Davis is acceptable as a teen lead, he has the sort of clean cut Middle American persona and looks like a character that a young Tom Hanks used to portray. So my head banging brethren are probably going to have a problem with this aspect, but roll on up guys this one is still worth checking out as a rental at least.
Guess central to the movie is who might be lurking under the mask, the prime mystery that keeps things flowing right to the final confrontation. Going to put my hand up here, sorry folks didn't pick this one, though I knew it wasn't the obvious suspect. Was happy enough with the reveal when it came and didn't think they were playing outside the lines with a left field antagonist suddenly entering the picture, looking at you Friday the 13th. The reason why our killer was fixating on Tree was a bit blah to be honest, but hey [Ed note: removed due to Spoilerville].
For Gorehounds the feed bowl is empty as, all kills are off screen or of the sort where you think you might be seeing more than you actually do. This is in keeping with the target demographic and I'm not going to mark the movie down due to this development. Where's Tom Savini when you need him, might have to slip on something a bit more robust this week to get my slasher cred back up to speed. Equally T&A is simply a non-starter for ten, you do get Tree's naked walk home, hey why not, no one is going to remember in her next day, but don't expect any magic moments there. So no not traditional in any sense of the word, this movie is firmly catering for its viewers.
Jessica Rothe (Tree) really carries the movie and you are going to be right behind her throughout. I found her to be charismatic with that certain something that lights up the screen. Expect to hear a lot more about her in the coming years, and I certainly hope she keeps her feisty performance up and running in future dark genre outings, though you kind of feel she might skip the reservation and head into Rom-Coms. Whatever she does next we have a great performance here to appreciate.
While the horror tactics here are simply slasheriffic, they are going to disappoint your regular visitor to the dark Saloon. Surprisingly we didn't get any jump scares, was half expecting a cat or two to coming bounding out of a cupboard but director Christopher Landon has other fish to fry and kept things on the straight and level. What we get is a slasher in name only and a movie that while professional leans more toward television movie of the week territory and less toward saying boo to the audience.
Phew got through the review with only a few cuts and bruises to show for it, that's not a bad result given I was heading into troublesome waters. The movie was solid enough as an outing and have to say I was enjoying the plot as it unfolded, but Happy Death Day remains as the sort of movie you can either watch if feeling like something light on a rainy Sunday afternoon or quite comfortably give a miss. Sure the underlying themes are about as transparent as a still pond, but this isn't the sort of movie that hard core heavy horror fans are going to appreciate. Feel free to throw this one on at a tween party, it's safe for younger viewers and I guess Tree is a reasonably good role model. So limited recommendation, but worth checking out I guess.