Happy Death Day is here, and we head to the theater to see if the latest horror offering is worth celebrating…or if it’s all just empty calories.
When you are as passionate about horror as we are, nothing gets your dark heart beating faster than the release of a great new horror film in the theater — especially during this most sacred time of year. So, of course, the Morbidly Beautiful staff couldn’t resist a trip to multiplex for the highly anticipated new Blumhouse-produced horror / slasher / dark comedy, Happy Death Day, directed by Christopher Landon and written by Scott Lobdell.
So, does it live up to the hype? Is it worth the price of a ticket? Read below for three brief reviews from three of our writers in a new segment we call Morbid Minis!
TAKE ONE: REDEFINING THE FINAL GIRL
“Happy Death Day has a lot going for it: the pacing is good; the humor is well-placed and not over-done, and Jessica Rothe gives a great performance in the lead. Rothe’s character, Tree, elevated this movie from just another mainstream teen horror flop to a refreshing and competent horror flick. Tree starts off as a stereotypically slutty and mean sorority girl; it’s easy to buy into the plot that someone would kill her. However, as Tree lives her birthday over and over, she can grow and become the hero of her own story.”
“In your typical horror movie, a girl like Tree is the one audiences cheer for to get offed. I appreciated writer Scott Lobdell’s decision to not have our final girl be yet another virginal example of how to survive a horror film. Furthermore, Tree shows with each repeated day that she is capable and smart. Even when she tells someone about her problem, each time she dies the day resets and she is on her own again. Ultimately, Tree is the only one who can find and stop her murderer.”
“Overall, Happy Death Day was surprisingly good at breaking a lot of horror stereotypes within Tree’s character alone.” – Nightmare Maven
TAKE TWO: COMPLETELY UNEXPECTED
“I went into Happy Death Day hopeful, but cautious. I had told my friends earlier that day that I expected the film to be anywhere from “just decent” to “disastrous”. Thankfully I found Happy Death Day to be neither of these things. Happy Death Day, is a smart, well written, well-acted, sometimes funny, sometimes serious slasher with a Groundhog’s Day spin that’s far from being “just decent”. In fact it’s just great!” – Glenn Strange
TAKE THREE: ALL THIS AND BRAINS, TOO
“Happy Death Day is wonderfully self aware, but not in that overly pretentious and grating “look how clever we’re being” kind of way. Instead, it has refreshing charm that’s hard to resist. It borrows generously from Groundhog Day, a fact that writer Scott Lobdell gleefully embraces, especially during one rather funny tongue-in-cheek moment at the end of the film. But the concept, while not entirely original, is extremely well executed. Despite the constant time loop, it never becomes tedious, and the filmmakers do an exceptional job keeping the story moving forward in a compelling and creative way.
The idea to bring the Groundhog Day concept to the horror genre was a stroke of genius, as it allows us to watch our heroine Tree (Jessica Rothe in a star-making performance) die in a variety of entertaining ways.
While the emphasis is on the fun, writer Lobdell does a great job infusing the film with enough heart and substance to elevate it above typical teen/slasher fare.
Hardcore horror fans should take note that the film is never very scary. And that PG-13 rating signals upfront that the blood and gore is kept to a tasteful minimum. With some films, that might be a letdown. In this case, however, the interesting story, stellar performances, and strong character development take center stage — making the film considerably better than it otherwise might have been.
The brilliant masterminds at Blumhouse Productions seem to have struck gold yet again. That’s great news for genre fans who are hungry for more great, atypical horror in theaters.” – Angry Princess