The groundhog day has been done before in, well, Groundhog Day, but also in Edge Of Tomorrow. Here, Death Day adds a sorority twist to the tale.
Happy Death Day goes like this: Tree, Jessica Rothe (La La Land, Mary + Jane (TV)), wakes in a stranger’s dorm room on campus with little memory of the previous night.
She is informed by Carter, Israel Broussard (The Bling Ring, Good Kids), the resident of the dorm room, that she was wasted last night at a party.
Tree is a pretty, vacuous, popular girl whose sleeping with one of the professors whilst Carter is the geeky one who assumes no-one will remember his name.
Tree gets on with her day, trying to avoid anyone noticing it’s her birthday which doesn’t work as they’re throwing her a surprise party. Before she makes it to her party though, someone wearing a mask stabs her to death.
She immediately wakes in a stranger’s dorm room and the whole process is repeated. She must find out who is killing her and stop it from happening to break the cycle.
She is aided, in some small way, by Carter though obviously each time she is killed he forgets everything.
Happy Death Day borrows heavily from Groundhog Day, even down to the routine Tree observes each morning when she leaves Carter’s room, which includes a car alarm, someone fainting, sprinklers going off.
It certainly won’t win any awards anytime soon but it’s a fun hour and a half that zips along and is helped by a good performance from Rothe who realises she’s been a bitch for so long that she needs to stop.
Broussard is good as the geeky helper as is Rachel Matthews as Danielle, a very Clueless style character and head of the popular girls fraternity.
The finger points at many people involved in Tree’s life including the doctor/professor she’s sleeping with, Charles Aitken (Frontier, Foyles War (TV)), Rob Mello (The Magnificent Seven, Heart, Baby) as a killer in the hospital, her roommate Ruby Modine (Shameless (TV), Central Park) and an ex, Caleb Spillyards (Evan’s Crime, Anyone) and some others.
The problem is that it’s all too obvious who is behind it all, despite for the first half-hour writer Scott Lobdell (Man Of The House, X-Men (TV)) and director Christopher Landon (Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones) pointing things in the other direction.
It doesn’t even bother to attempt to explain how the perpetrator appears to know exactly where Tree will be and when, even when she alters her routine.
The final fight scene is also a generic pile of poop (that’s a technical description) given that we’ve seen Tree fight the perp. a few times and they appear much, much stronger than her.
In summary, Happy Death Day is fine if you’re looking to switch your brain off for a short time and have a bit of a laugh (it has its moments). If you’re looking for something that takes the groundhog day concept to another level, you’ll need to watch Groundhog Day.