Many horrors/thrillers are smart and invite a lot of curiosity, and Happy Death Day from 2017 is one of them. 

Jessica Rothe in Happy Death Day / Picture Credit: Blumhouse Productions

Jessica Rothe in Happy Death Day / Picture Credit: Blumhouse Productions

Happy Death Day could be described as Groundhog Day with a deadly twist, which is a great premise for a movie, and this feature definitely got it right. 

The film follows Theresa Gelbman (Jessica Rothe), or Tree as her friends call her, on her birthday as she wakes up in a boy’s room who she met the night before. Hungover and confused, Tree walks across the campus and makes her way back to her sorority house. 

When the day is almost at an end, Tree sets off to her birthday party. However, before she can enjoy her party properly, Tree is stabbed to death by someone wearing a mask and a black hoodie. 

Instead of dying, Tree wakes up again, back in the boy’s room. After a short time, Tree understands the horror her life has become; she begins to live her last day on Earth over and over again, in some form of cruel loop. 

Since none of her friends believe her story, Tree realises that she is on her own, and must figure out who her killer is in order to break the cycle. 

The plot for Happy Death Day may seem somewhat simple, but sometimes that’s how many films get to show their merits. What sometimes makes a film great, is tricking the audience into thinking they’ve got the answer, when the truth is (generally) unpredictable. 

Tree takes matter into her own hands / Picture Credit: Blumhouse Productions
Tree takes matter into her own hands / Picture Credit: Blumhouse Productions

That’s what this film does best, lull viewers into a false sense of security, thinking they have everything figured out, when they probably don’t. Finding out you’re wrong in guessing who the killer is can usually be a pleasant surprise, as you immediately want to know who really did it. 

Happy Death Day gives audiences a few suspects to pick from, and also gives you hints at the reasons why they could be Tree’s killer. This is perhaps a classic strategy, but it is utilised so well within the film, as there are both ‘obvious’ and not so stark characters to accuse. 

The movie also does comedy rather well; as Tree realises that her days repeat until she finds her killer, so she can have a little fun with the situation. 

Tree takes to doing things she would never usually be allowed or want to do, such as walking across campus completely naked, or speaking to people she perhaps would otherwise ignore. 

This hint of humour works so well, as it almost serves to suggest to audiences that if you could have a day where nothing mattered because it would be reset, there are some things we would all love to do (although many of us might choose to keep our clothes on) without consequence. 

Another great aspect of this movie is how Tree changes throughout. At the start, she is rude, selfish, and doesn’t seem to care much about anyone around her. 

Can Tree break the loop? / Picture Credit: Blumhouse Productions
Can Tree break the loop? / Picture Credit: Blumhouse Productions

However, after her ordeal and the killer on the loose, she begins to sacrifice things she never would have before, and even lets the killer get to her to save someone she has begun to care about. 

For most of the film, Tree seems to be a character who we may not care about if she wasn’t in the main role, in the sense that she doesn’t appear to be a good person. But the more the film goes on and the more she is trapped in a horrifying loop, the more we seem to like her. 

Happy Death Day also has a great amount of intrigue, as figuring out who is after Tree isn’t as easy as you may think, causing viewers to genuinely try to figure out who wants to kill Tree, and why. 

Tree goes through a lot in the film, and not just being chased by a killer day after day. She speaks with family she hasn’t for a while, and learns how to be a better person; it’s a great addition to a film with both comedy and thrills. 

Happy Death Day is a great movie choice for a night in. It’s got well-placed comedy, a great main character who grows as the film progresses, and a brilliant and interesting narrative that doesn’t get repetitive, despite the feature’s plot. 

Watch the trailer for Happy Death Day below:

Written by Melissa, who you can follow on Twitter @melissajournal

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