Horror Movie Review: Happy Death Day (2017)


“Would you stop looking at me like I just took a dump on your mom’s head?”

Happy Death Day is a 2017 American slasher film directed by Christopher B. Landon. The film was produced by Jason Blum through his Blumhouse Productions banner, who have produced the movie franchises Insidious, Ouija and The Purge to name a few. It follows a college student who is murdered on her birthday and begins reliving the day over and over again; at that point, she sets out to find the killer and stop her death.

Theresa “Tree” Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) wakes up on her birthday on Monday, September 18th in the dorm room of classmate Carter Davis (Israel Broussard) after a drunken night out. Tree goes through the day being self-centered, dismissive and condescending to her fellow classmates and previous hook-ups. She ignores her father’s invite to a restaurant and throws away a birthday cupcake given to her by her roommate Lori (Ruby Modine). And if that wasn’t enough, Tree is also having an affair with her professor: Gregory Butler (Charles Aitken). That night, while going to a party, Tree is lured into a tunnel. After reaching the end of it, she is murdered by a hooded figure wearing a mask of the campus mascot.

Tree wakes up the next morning back in Carter’s bed with the previous day’s events repeating. Unnerved, she relives the day and avoids the tunnel, instead returning to her sorority house for a surprise party. However, while hooking up with her classmate Nick, the masked killer murders him before killing Tree once more. Tree realizes she is in a time loop and tries to avoid her death by barricading herself in her room. However, she is murdered again when the killer hides in her bathroom.

After several more loops Tree passes out shortly after waking up. She awakens in the hospital where she learns she has retained damage from her other murders and is growing weaker. Tree escapes the hospital room only to be chased by her killer until she manages to flee in a car. While driving, she is pulled over by a police officer and volunteers to be arrested in order to be spared. However, the killer runs down the officer and sets her car on fire, burning Tree to death and sending her through another loop.

Waking up in Carter’s bed again, Tree convinces Carter of her predicament by showing that she holds foreknowledge of the day’s events. Tree admits to Carter she doesn’t like who she’s become; she has also grown distant from her father ever since her mother passed away three years ago and that they had shared the same birthday. Tree catches a local news report on John Tombs (Rob Mello), a serial killer who is being held in the hospital on her campus. Concluding that Tombs is her killer; Tree rushes to the hospital to warn of his escape.

Has Tree cracked it? Will this Monday finally end?

Happy Death Day is definitely a fun watch for sure. The basic concept itself – a slasher mixed with Groundhog Day – makes for an enjoyable ride. You start off the film similarly to Groundhog Day, hating the main character and thinking they’re a complete asshole. But as it progresses, Tree goes through many changes and becomes much more likeable.

Unfortunately, due to the complete lack of any gore, Happy Death Day feels more like a chick flick. The constant panning away from the blood is infuriating and makes you take every death lightly, instead of showing how truly horrible it must be to be murdered every single day.

Overall, Happy Death Day is a fun, casual watch with enough red herrings for the mystery to be satisfying in the end.

Happy Death Day
  • 7/10
    The Final Score - 7/10
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