They say cats have nine lives, well Tree’s got way more than that.
Directed by Christopher Landon, who is best known for the Paranormal Activity movies, Happy Death Day is the new hit horror flick that follows Tree Gelman (“La La Land‘s” Jessica Rothe), a self-centered sorority girl at Bayfield University, as she repeatedly wakes up in the same dorm room on her birthday after what she thinks is a one-night-stand with Israel Broussard’s character Carter Davis.
Tree keeps having deja vu as she walks out of the the dorm room, passing a creepy art student checking her out, a tree-hugging petitioner trying to stop global warming, a couple on an early morning picnic getting sprayed by sprinklers, a car alarm going off and a frat boy passing out after a long night of hazing (if you miss one of these in the first scene, don’t worry, you’ll see it again and again later). Oh, and did I mention that she also gets murdered at the end of everyday by a creepy hooded man wearing a baby face mask?
Following the same format that has been used in countless films and TV shows such as Before I Fall (2017) and Groundhog Day (1993) (which they give a nod to at the end of the movie) Tree must keep reliving her birthday and “death day” until she figures out who her killer is… or until her countless wounds catch up to her and she can no longer start over again. Somehow, she is able to convince Davis to help her create a suspect list, crossing off each person as she realizes it isn’t them, eventually getting to the point where dying doesn’t even phase her anymore.
The only negative thing I could say about this movie is never learning what is causing her to live her birthday over and over again. Other than that, Happy Death Day has the perfect touch of horror, humor, mystery, romance and tearjerking moments along with incredible character development and a plot twist that had the entire audience’s jaw on the theater floor.
Rothe helps bring her character from the stereotypical, stuck-up sorority college student to a girl that genuinely cares for others and values life as well. Rothe’s costars, Broussard, Ruby Modine (Lori), Charles Aitken (Gregory), Jason Bayle (Tree’s dad) and Rachel Matthews (Danielle), also help make Happy Death Day the incredible film that it is: A cross between Groundhog Day and Scream (1996) that teaches the old lesson of living everyday like it’s your last.