Happy Death Day – 2017

Director Christopher Landon
Screenplay Scott Lobdell
Starring Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine

If there is any significance to this slasher film remake of Groundhog Day, it flew right by me. It’s a nice film if you’re 15 and have seen a handful of horror films. There are twists, but only enough to fill out the standard running time. Whether its obvious enough who is repeatedly killing Theresa “Tree” Gelbman the first time, they don’t take enough time to flesh out any more story lines than necessary. The result points to a few people. The test audience dictates which one they’d prefer it be, and voila, there’s your movie. At least they didn’t tease an obvious sequel.

Whether you like this film will depend some on the cast. Rothe is capable of showing she’s learning something, eventually moving away from “biatch” to one who’s grateful enough to think of others first. Broussard plays the boy most capable of being her man, even if he’s left in the dark sometimes and brought into the plan at other times.

Overall, the film plays like a saccharine thriller, with the violence glossed over for the most part, the sex left to reference and not too explicit. There are a variety of ways to dispatch presented. If there was a logic to follow, they don’t worry about it all that much. The murderer takes some shots that would knock out someone 3 times their size, but they keep moving forward, just like Rocky Balboa says we all should. Then, once they are revealed, we see a more even fight. It must be the mask.

If anything, there are opportunities presented and paths not taken that a better director than Landon would have surmised. That the film made money is more the sign of a slow season for horror after the worthy success of It than anything this film deserved. It might be relevant to some that Landon is the child of someone famous, as is Tree’s roommate Ruby Modine. These facts are as interesting as anything else going on.

See it if you must, knowing most of the film and deaths are covered in the trailer. It’s always kind of a bummer when a film gets hamstrung by its advertising, but never having seen the trailer probably wouldn’t have made the film any more enjoyable.

(** out of *****)

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