Slasher flick effectively fuses old tropes
“Groundhog Day” meets “Scream” in the sturdy but less urgent slasher flick, “Happy Death Day,” which centers on a rowdy sorority blonde who is somehow forced to relive her own murder—on her birthday.
Theresa, nicknamed “Tree” (Jessica Rothe), is the target of a determined assailant, wearing a baby mask inspired by the university’s sports mascot. But she keeps waking up, back to the same 24 hours, remembering details of her grisly demise.
Tree is given chances to experience the same day differently, befriending another student from the same university, Carter (Israel Broussard), whom she starts every birthday with.
Unlike “Scream,” the film by Christopher B. Landon has less immediacy and doesn’t offer a skewering perspective on popular culture. “Happy Death Day” does have a contemporary vibe to it, very “now” in its depiction of young people’s language and sexuality, but still having familiar and relatable quirks.
The time loop aspect is entertaining, but naturally infuriating. It’s been done just as cleverly—if predictably—by “The X-Files,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Supernatural.” Still, the film throws in some interesting twists.
In any case, charismatic and watchable Rothe and Broussard keep you glued to the screen, even when the déjà vu-murder mystery doesn’t always keep viewers guessing.
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