‘Happy Death Day’ Review: It’s An Effective ‘Groundhog Day’ Meets ‘Scream,’ But Without The Needless Gore

There’s no better way to learn from your mistakes and become a better person than by getting stabbed, thrown, and hit at the end of every day. Such is the horror in Happy Death Day, the new thriller that essentially borrows its concept from Groundhog Day, but incorporates elements of traditional slasher films.

Happy Death Day, which stars Jessica Rothe as mean sorority girl Tree Gelbman, is very straightforward to begin with. Tree wakes up to her birthday over and over again only to get killed later in the day. She later figures out that the only to stop the loop and continue with her life is to find out who the masked killer is and defeat them. The only problem is Tree wasn’t a very likeable person to begin with and a lot of people seem to have enough motive to kill her.

The kills aren’t original and they aren’t too gory either. The lack of blood is quite a surprise, but refreshing nonetheless, considering Happy Death Day is a product of Blumhouse, the production company that distributed R-rated thrillers Get Out, Split, and The Purge.

The attacks from behind, the hide-and-seek inside the hospital, getting killed in an empty dark tunnel, and other causes of death are something viewers have seen in other thrillers. But the film maintains enough momentum throughout its 1:36 minutes runtime, and spreads out the varied highs and lows of the film to keep everyone interested until the end. At one point Tree appears to have it all figured out, only to find herself (and the viewers) fumble and stumble several times more.

The interesting thing about the confused heroine is the fact that although she appears to have unlimited resurrections, her deaths still take a toll on her body. She gets weaker every waking day, internally bruised and scarred from multiple stabs. But Tree is a character to root for, so her deaths still feel painful even though they’re expected. She transform from an ill-tempered party girl to a girl brave enough to right her wrongs and be 10 times nicer to everyone around her.

Overall Happy Death Day is a pretty enjoyable film, with a miss of scares that hit the mark and plot points that make viewers wonder. The film scored big at the box office. According to Box Office Mojo, the movie took home an estimated $71,116,910 worldwide gross on a $5 million production budget. The film received decent reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, where it has a 69 percent approval rating.

[Featured Image by Blumhouse]