Death be­comes her – re­peat­edly

Geelong Advertiser - - WEEKEND EXTRA - HAPPY DEATH DAY Star­ring: NT LIVE: YERMA

Jes­sica Rothe, Is­rael Brous­sard, Ruby Mo­dine It’s a birth­day to die for. IT may seem that all a hor­ror movie needs in or­der to suc­ceed is a masked ma­niac, a va­ri­ety of vic­tims and a good sup­ply of fake blood. But a good gim­mick goes a long way, too.

And Happy Death Day has a pretty solid one, even if it has al­ready been made fa­mous by the ’90s com­edy Ground­hog Day and re­pur­posed to great ef­fect by the un­der­rated Tom Cruise ac­tion movie Edge of To­mor­row.

Yes, it’s the one about be­ing trapped in the same day over and over again, with our hap­less hero forced to keep re­liv­ing the events of the day un­til they fig­ure out an es­cape route, which usu­ally en­tails be­com­ing a bet­ter per­son.

In Happy Death Day, how­ever, there’s a bit of a ghoul­ish twist: the day col­lege girl Tree (Jes­sica Rothe) keeps re­liv­ing is the day she dies at the hands of that masked ma­niac men­tioned ear­lier.

Per­haps wisely, the movie down­plays the gore and grue­some­ness, maybe re­al­is­ing an un­end­ing cy­cle of death for its lead­ing lady might be heavy go­ing.

And it does give Tree a good range of re­sponses to her predica­ment, rang­ing from plucky de­ter­mi­na­tion to laid-back in­dif­fer­ence as time goes by, all of which are well-por­trayed by the funny and like­able Rothe. (Of course, it also gives her the name Tree, for which there’s no ex­pla­na­tion.)

Tree’s death day is also her birth­day, and we first en­counter her wak­ing up next to Carter (Is­rael Brous­sard), a shy, sweet fel­low stu­dent she met over a few too many drinks the night be­fore.

Hun­gover and not ex­actly thrilled about it be­ing her birth­day, Tree goes through the mo­tions of an or­di­nary day, one that shock­ingly ends with her death.

And then she wakes up next to Carter once more, with the en­tire process start­ing all over again.

Once the con­fu­sion and panic wear off, and her ef­forts to change the course of the day fail to work, Tree takes it on her­self to solve her own mur­der.

But the way to do that might not in­volve chang­ing what’s around her but what’s in­side her.

As she says, “You live the same day over and over again, you kind of start see­ing who you re­ally are”.

To be hon­est, Happy Death Day doesn’t quite have the imag­i­na­tion or en­ergy to keep its con­cept rolling for the movie’s du­ra­tion, and it feels like it can’t quite de­cide if it wants to be a thriller, a chiller or a black-ish com­edy.

But the nov­elty of the cen­tral idea is fun for a fair while, and it cer­tainly helps that Rothe — per­haps best re­mem­bered as one of Emma Stone’s room­mates from La La Land — has a zesty, vi­brant comic pres­ence. strangers must rely on each other to sur­vive. (M, Vil­lage and Read­ing) Bil­lie Piper (in an award­win­ning per­for­mance) and Aus­tralian ac­tor Bren­dan Cow­ell take the lead role in the Na­tional Theatre’s sear­ing drama about a woman go­ing to ex­tremes to have a child. (Un­rated, Piv­o­to­nian)

Tree (Jes­sica Rothe) takes it on her­self to solve her own mur­der.

DEATH ON RE­PEAT: Col­lege girl Tree (Jes­sica Rothe) with Carter (Is­rael Brous­sard) in Happy Death Day.

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