‘Happy Death Day’ knows it is just another copy of the 1993 comedy classic ‘Groundhog Day’; in which Bill Murray plays a selfish weatherman named Phil Connors, who finds himself reliving the same day over and over until he changes his ways, but not before finding love in Andie MacDowell’s Rita Hanson. It is especially reminiscent of the movie so much to where it cannot help but reference it in one scene. Our heroine, Tree Gilbman (Jessica Rothe) could even be a younger and sassy Connors if he were a sorority girl on the cusp of depression. I could swear ‘Happy Death Day’ is essentially a remake of the classic, but disguised as a slasher flick blended with a satirical college comedy. The story is nearly the same; protagonist is rude and discovers he/she is in a loop, reminds potential love interest (played here by Israel Broussard) of events noticed previously, becomes a better person, time loop ends and protagonist lives to see another day. However, the one ingredient that adds flavor to this birthday cake is a killer in a sweater and baby mask, and a mystery that needs to be solved.
With each day Tree finds herself in the same dorm room she woke up in after a drunk night of partying, and no recollection of what happened, (Adding to the story’s sense of fun) she gets smarter and finds ways to evade the killer while solving the mystery of who the culprit is. Throughout ‘Happy Death Day’, we can take a quick-witted guess, yet it manages to play with our minds every now and then so we are not given a fair chance. It is like a sadistic game for our minds. Call me a masochist though, because I enjoyed sitting through Tree’s many ways to get through her birthday over and over.
I knew what I was getting into the moment the Universal logo appeared; from then on, the fun never stops. Tree is not just a pretty face with a sarcastic attitude, she is a character you cannot help but like. She is a picture-perfect example of making a sorority girl the lead in a slasher flick, only if the writer had so much fun in bringing her back to life so he can kill her again; The mastermind (and possible ‘Groundhog Day’ fanatic) behind this sadistic killer’s dream is Scott Lobdel; (‘X-Men’) though he is only the one who came up with this amount of torture for our heroine. The man who seemed to have the most fun with ‘Happy Death Day’ is Director Christopher Landon, (‘Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse’) who makes this film flow smoothly with an eerie feel at times. Though, she is not one-note; she has an emotional depth to help you understand why she is the person she is, especially on a day she dreads her most – her birthday. I found myself surprised by how I was almost about to cry during her most emotional monologue. Looking closer at Rothe’s performance, she does fine. ‘Happy Death Day’ will definitely turn her into a star, if not a scream queen. While I can see ‘Happy Death Day’ becoming a new classic for Halloween.