2 November 2017 | TheLittleSongbird
'Groundhog Day' with a slasher/mystery twist
Saw 'Happy Death Day' as somebody who was fascinated by the concept, found the advertising interesting and good enough to warrant a view and who appreciates horror when done well. Seeing it just before Halloween as part of my Halloween celebrations, will admit to not being as bowled over by the film as would have liked but enjoying it a good deal.
As surprisingly interesting as the advertising was (and there has been some dreadful advertising this year, a notable recent example being the completely mis-marketed 'Geostorm'), it is also misleading. One would expect a truly frightening film judging from the trailers, but actually 'Happy Death Day' happened to be much more than what was indicated and wasn't what one would call terrifying or sleep-with-the-light-on-for-a-week. The good news is that 'Happy Death Day' actually makes the most of its concept, refreshing having seen films recently that had concepts that they didn't do anywhere near enough with. The not so good news is that as enjoyable as it was it did feel like something was missing.
It is easy to see why lots of people will like, and have liked 'Happy Death Day'. It is just as easy to see why it will be, and has been, a let-down for others. My opinion has shades of both, leaning towards the former. 'Happy Death Day' may be somewhat standard (while the concept is a pretty unique one, some of the story elements aren't), superficial (other than the lead character, the characters are developed very flimsily) and some parts don't make as much sense as they could and feel unfinished.
Was expecting more from the killer twist reveal, which is not as clever and surprising as one would like and the whole ending felt rather silly and rushed to me (the killer's motive also came over as really trivial for an elaborate set-up). A little slow to begin with too, it's once the concept kicks in when 'Happy Death Day' properly comes to life and maintains that energy for the rest of the film.
For all those faults though, 'Happy Death Day' is also refreshingly self-aware, almost very much aware of its standard-ness and superficiality and acknowledges it, and manages to be lots of fun, creepy-suspenseful and surprisingly thought-provoking. Gruesomely funny sums it up very well.
'Happy Death Day' is a long way from amateurish visually, the photography is stylish rather than slapdash, the editing has suitably unnerving moments and the lighting is atmospheric. Christopher Landon never lets it get too heavy while not diluting the fun or scares, and the at times haunting and at others times funky soundtrack adds a lot.
When it comes to the script, 'Happy Death Day' is full of knowing humour and never removes its tongue from its cheek, instead keeping it firmly intact throughout which proved to come off really well. It also really makes one think. The story execution is not perfect, but it's never dull and has some neat twists and turns that stops it from being predictable and repetitive.
Jessica Rothe should become a bigger star after her excellent lead turn here, she has been acting a few years before this but this is the first time where she really held my attention and allowed me to take proper notice of her. Israel Broussard is also very believable and the two have great chemistry together. The acting on the whole is solid but essentially it's all about Rothe and she is one of the main reasons why 'Happy Death Day' is worth a viewing.
Overall, a long way from perfect but quite enjoyable. 6/10 Bethany Cox