Directed by: Christopher Landon
Produced by: Jason Blum p.g.a. Blumhouse
Written by: Scott Lobdell
Director of Photography: Toby Oliver
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews and Charles Aitken.
‘Today is the first day of the rest of your life’.
Reminiscent of Groundhog Day (released in 1993 where Bill Murray lives the same day, over and over), Happy Death Day has Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe (La La Land)) living the same day, but at the end of her day, she gets killed by a baby-masked psychopath.
Set on the Loyola University campus in New Orleans, there’s that sorority vibe – think: Tree waking up in a dormitory to face Carter (Israel Broussard (The Bling Ring)) the morning after an obviously heavy night on the booze, to the walk-of-shame back to her sorority house to face her fellow sisters.
Thankfully, not too much is made of the college life because jeez, we’ve all seen that too many times before… It just lends a fun element to an otherwise slasher movie. If you can call a slasher movie fun.
So, yes, it’s a scary movie.
But the tension is broken with these comic moments of Tree the bitchy, stuck-up character, able to make fun of herself.
Hats off to Jessica Rothe – if you didn’t like her character than the film would have just fallen over. But there’s a down-to-earthness to her, making the other characters like the snobby house president, Danielle (newcomer Rachel Matthews) all the more ridiculous and funny.
You’d think the same scenario of waking up to the same day would lead to a boring story, but the script (written by Scott Lobdell) plays around with the concept, the changes made by Tree as she becomes aware of her fate, waking up over and over, is offset by the sameness of the day, shown in different ways, the wit making the waking nightmare, fun.
And I’m happy to say, director, Christopher Landon (Paranormal Activity 2, 3 and 4, he then wrote and directed the spinoff Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, 2014) has pulled all the elements together, collaborating with: Aussie director of photography, Toby Oliver (upcoming Insidious: The Last Key), production designer, Cecele M. De Stefano (TV’s Empire), editor, Gregory Plotkin (Paranormal Activity series), costume designer, Meagan Mclaughlin Luster (10 Cloverfield Lane) and composer Bear McCreary (10 Cloverfield Lane).
And it just feels like the team had fun making this movie.
Particularly showing the range of Jessica Rothe, shining through all the moments from, bitchy to scared to brazen to vulnerable.
Jason Blum has produced yet another cool film. I always keep an eye out for Blumhouse because I know I’m in for a scary treat.
I’m not saying Happy Death Day is a mind bender that throws you for days like Get Out or Whiplash. But it’s a great entertainer with a clever story-line.