Do you ever get the feeling that you’ve seen Groundhog Day more than once?
The latest low-budget horror laughathon from Jason Blum begs the comparison not simply by marrying the convention with a cavalcade of teen-horror tropes, here visited upon college socialite Tree (Jessica Rothe) as she is forced to relive her death at the hands of a baby-faced, yet unmasked stalker, but for barely missing a beat of the 80’s classic from which it evidently took no end of inspiration.
Beginning with Tree’s birthday, played out in variations over the course of the film depending on whichever way she goes about catching her killer, on the second day comes denial, then some casual fun and her own none too subtle manipulation of daily goings-on that can only come with knowing the future, followed by, inevitably, the not always friendly figure changing tack with those around her.
There’s even a scene where Tree proceeds to gorge herself on delicious goodies which as much as any other segment recalls Bill Murray’s own weatherman. There is however one innovation central to the plot wholly distinct from the likes of Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow, aptly lending the film its own sense of urgency.
A riot of silly fun dependent in large part on not considering it all too deeply, Rothe owns the schlockiest and goriest scenes above all, elevating what could otherwise have been a series of repetitive, not entirely distinct death sequences. There’s an able supporting cast of lesser-known faces including Ruby Modine and Israel Broussard, even if a few are too recognisable as red herrings.
The ending, well set up, while gleefully subverting more than one horror mainstay still falls back on a denouement better suited to the dime-a-dozen mysteries Happy Death Day pointedly aims to skewer. Sacrificing a more considered and rounded approach to the thought-provoking and heavily topical thematic elements it ostensibly pursues throughout, as well as any real sense of character development (one of the more emotive side stories in this regard proving not only a false ploy but regretfully almost entirely extraneous to events), the film opts for a gotcha ending that does little justice to the ingenuity otherwise prevalent.
Still a good laugh and fair addition to any Halloween marathon, Happy Death Day may not be Get Out, but if you’re looking for a bit of fun you should still get out and give it a go.
Happy Death Day is in cinemas now