Checked out the new time loop horror movie Happy Death Day. By time loop movie, I mean a film that follows the tropes of Groundhog Day and similar movies and tv episodes that share the premise of a person reliving the same day over and over again. This is just like those movies, only it’s about a killer… or possibly a serial killer if killing the same person every night makes you a serial killer…
Our protagonist is an unlikable, self-center cliche of a sorority girl who wakes up in a boy’s DORM (*gasp*), lives out her birthday, and get killed every night by a masked killer… only to wake up in the same dorm (*gasp*). The film follows all the tropes that this mini-genre has introduced over the past 20 years. She starts out unlikable, she comes to grips with the time loop, she tries to convince others its happening, she begins to not care, she cares too much, and eventually she finds the key to break the loop. The fact it’s a slasher film is to its credit though… that’s original… though not to its credit, it isn’t a particularly scary one. Though I don’t think it strives for hard scares but more for “throw your popcorn and laugh at the screen” kind of thrills.
What really saves the movie though is the surprise that it’s actually a horror comedy. It’s actually pretty funny though rarely directly and obviously so. In fact, when the first few laughs hit, I was wondering if the movie had accidentally gone off the rails… but, no, it has a sly, reserved sense of humor that grows in the telling of the story. Probably should have guessed when the Universal logo swirls into view at the start… and then restarts twice. Oh, and there’s a very funny reference to a much better movie at the very end… the kind of thing people in this crazy plot should probably point our more often. Good on them.
It also helps that the main character does start out bitchy and bratty and genuinely turns into a better (and funnier) person as the film goes. I credit the relative newcomer Jessica Rothe for pulling off a good, surprisingly nuanced performance.
So, yeah, I’m not saying rush out to see it but it is a good (if not very scary but certainly FUN) Halloween movie. If you like these kind of time loop stories, it’s been done better before but not usually with this fun a touch (I mean, not counting Groundhog Day). It’s a low-key but definite recommendation.