Hor­ror film same old, same old

The London Free Press - - MOVIES - RE­VIEWED BY TINA HASSANNIA

The lat­est re­mak­ing of Ground­hog Day with a twist is Happy Death Day.

Pretty stu­dent Tree (Jes­sica Rothe) keeps wak­ing up in some dude’s dorm room, re­liv­ing her birth­day and be­ing killed by a mys­te­ri­ously masked psy­cho.

No one de­serves to be killed this way. But to be fair, Tree is a Grade A B-word. So by Hol­ly­wood karma, her fate is to be stabbed with a butcher knife.

Among nu­mer­ous peo­ple Tree is cruel to, there’s the dorm guy Carter (Is­rael Brous­sard), who kindly gets her Tylenol for her gru­elling han­gover; the en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist stu­dent ask­ing for a pe­ti­tion sig­na­ture whom Tree word­lessly pushes past; and her room­mate Lori (Ruby Mo­dine), whose made­from-scratch birth­day cup­cake Tree throws in the garbage with­out a sec­ond thought.

With­out fail, ev­ery time Tree nears the sur­prise birth­day her soror­ity sis­ters have planned, a per­son in a creepy mask hunts her down and kills her.

The Ground­hog Day premise is fun to watch when the pro­tag­o­nist clev­erly ex­per­i­ments break­ing the spell as in Edge of

To­mor­row, fea­tur­ing a con­tin­u­ously bruised and hu­mil­i­ated Tom Cruise.

But Happy Death Day un­der­es­ti­mates the fun in Tree’s ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and gets there too late. Tree needs at least two rep­e­ti­tions be­fore she un­der­stands what’s go­ing on, slow­ing the pace and bor­ing view­ers.

When Tree fi­nally tries a few meth­ods in es­cap­ing her killer, only to re­al­ize death al­ways man­ages to catch up to her in one way or an­other, the pace picks up again.

But the ex­e­cu­tion (no pun in­tended) of cutesy death scenes is slow to come to fruition and un­der­de­vel­oped. What is there left for the film to try out next but to suss out the iden­tity of the killer?

What does Happy Death Day get right? Its sur­prise fi­nal twist is ad­mit­tedly in­ter­est­ing, and the film does try to be orig­i­nal with the con­cept her body is ac­tu­ally ac­cu­mu­lat­ing the toll of mul­ti­ple deaths.

When it varies Tree’s re­ac­tions to her repet­i­tive day — stressed out, clever, weird, nude, de­ter­mined — the film fi­nally earns its hu­mour points.

Jes­sica Rothe stars in Happy Death Day.

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