One from the to watch pile…
Happy Death Day (2017)
Film: It is occasionally pretty cool when a film takes inspiration from another source, and extends its ideas out to make it its own. Sure it could be a travesty, it when it works it can be interesting. This film is one of those time-loop styled stories which you can tell immediately from the opening of the film, with Universal’s titles, which suggests it with a not-so-subtle hint of playing over and over a few times.
This film is directed by Christopher Landon who has a smart eye of being able to combine genres as could be told with his Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, here joining horror, time-loop scifi and collegiate-styled, John Hughes-ian teen comedies. His advantage here is a smart script by comic writer, Scott Lobdell, who created the mutant team Generation X, as well as writing other titles such as Alpha Flight, Fantastic Four, Teen Titans and Red Hood and the Outlaws.
Sorority sister Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) is, to put it bluntly, an absolute bitch. She wakes up one morning in the bed of Carter (Israel Broussard), on a day which happens to be her birthday, and prepares for the walk of shame back to her sorority house. At the end of the day, whilst walking to a party, she is murdered… and then wakes up back at the beginning of the day, and very quickly realises… well, after living and dying in the same day several times… that the only way to move on to the next day is to solve her own murder.
During the course of her birthday, we are introduced to a bunch of people who could be responsible: The bitter ex-lover, the hateful sorority sister, the friendly sorority sister whom she disrespects, the wife of the professor she’s bonking, her disappointed father and just so many others… but who is it?
That’s the mystery, and can Tree discover who it is before her lives run out?
The film is a pastiche of Groundhog Day, Mean Girls and every slasher film ever made, especially Scream as we see our masked villain is of the human variety, and can be hurt, and not an unstoppable Michael/ Jason type.
Typically with these sorts of ‘groundhog day’ films, everything you see happen and every movement made by various actors is really quite deliberate so it can be easily replicated on each new pass and honestly, the over exaggeration of some of the players is a touch blatant, to the point of distraction, but honestly that’s my only criticism of the film.
Those who love a bloody, gory slasher may be disappointed as this film isn’t one of those at all. The kills aren’t inventive, though they are sometimes surprising, but this film is more about the victim than the blood.
I have to give a specific shout out to Jessica Rothe who plays her role brilliantly, and wasn’t afraid of her character going from total glamourpuss to horrendously dishevelled victim. The character gets weaker every time she is killed so her appearance suffers.
Derivative with its idea but innovative with its execution, Happy Death Day is a thrilling, intriguing and funny version of a cinematic trope that has a nice bunch of twist and turns, and even pays direct tribute to the film that obviously inspired it, Groundhog Day.
Format: Happy Death Day was reviewed with the Australian multi-region Bluray which runs for approximately 96 minutes. As one would expect from a modern film, both the 2.40:1 image and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Extras: The disc opens with previews for Pacific Rim Uprising and Pitch Perfect 3 before hitting the menu screen. The other extras are:
Alternate Ending is just what the title would suggest it is and it’s an amusing alternative, but they definitively went with the right one.
Deleted Scenes, as usual, are an interesting distraction but the film ultimately benefits without them.
Worst Birthday Ever looks at the aspects of the ‘time-loop’ movie.
Behind the Mask: The Suspects looks at all the potential perpetrators of the crime, and the design of the killer’s mask.
The Many Deaths of Tree isn’t about the destruction of the rainforests, but instead about the various ways in which Tree dies through the film.
Unfortunately none of the extras last very long.
WISIA: This movie was great and I can’t wait to watch it again.