Happy Death Day,

Waterloo Region Record - - NIGHTLIFE - Rick Bent­ley

”Happy Death Day,” the story of a wo­man who’s caught in an end­less loop of her own death, fol­lows in the foot­steps of “Get Out” by tak­ing fa­mil­iar el­e­ments from the hor­ror genre but de­liv­er­ing the scares with more wit, wis­dom and won­der.

It starts with Tree Gelb­man (Jes­sica Rothe), a soror­ity sis­ter in des­per­ate need of some sen­si­tiv­ity train­ing, wak­ing up in a strange col­lege dorm room. Her meet­ing with the dorm’s oc­cu­pant, the sweet and naive Carter Davis (Is­rael Brous­sard), is the start of a string of hu­mil­i­at­ing mo­ments mag­ni­fied by it be­ing Tree’s birth­day. Her suf­fer­ing comes to an end when a man dressed in all black wear­ing a baby face mask at­tacks and kills her.

Tree wakes the next morn­ing (that’s re­ally the same morn­ing) with a ma­jor sense of déjà vu and, ul­ti­mately, a mur­der­ous end to her day. It only takes Tree three or four times of be­ing killed be­fore she re­al­izes that un­til she fig­ures out the iden­tity of her killer, the day will con­tinue to re­peat. But each time Tree awak­ens, she’s a bit weaker.

The real killer here (fig­u­ra­tively speak­ing) is that the sus­pect list is mas­sively long be­cause of Tree’s lack of car­ing for any­one but her­self.

This is where “Happy Death Day” takes a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to the genre. Scott Lob­dell’s script fea­tures many tropes from the hor­ror film world. It starts with the cen­tral fig­ure of Tree, a beau­ti­ful blond who ends up be­ing both the vic­tim and saviour in this story.

“Happy Death Day” has a body count to ri­val most hor­ror movies. But, be­cause al­most all the deaths are of the same per­son, the count could also be seen as very small.

The film also fea­tures a creepy killer who cov­ers his iden­tity with a strange mask. The chubby cheeked baby face mask shouldn’t be that creepy but there’s a strangeness to the de­sign that makes it work.

Tree re­lives her death day re­peat­edly and it’s ob­vi­ous that some­how, the killer is go­ing to find her. Even with that knowl­edge, Lob­dell’s script is so smartly writ­ten that each end­ing comes as a sur­prise.

A lot of credit for “Happy Death Day” be­ing worth see­ing again and again is the per­for­mance by Rothe (“Mary + Jane”). She is be­liev­able as the snotty soror­ity sis­ter, the scared and con­fused mur­der vic­tim, and the strong wo­man who not only finds clues about her killer with each death but learns a lot about her­self.

If all you want out of a hor­ror film is blood and guts, “Happy Death Day” isn’t the right movie for you. Any­one look­ing to en­joy some scares while try­ing to fig­ure out a very clever mys­tery should plan on see­ing “Happy Death Day.”


In “Happy Death Day” a col­lege stu­dent (Jes­sica Rothe) re­lives the day of her mur­der un­til she dis­cov­ers her killer’s iden­tity.

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