Happy Death Day

Critics Consensus

Happy Death Day puts a darkly humorous sci-fi spin on slasher conventions, with added edge courtesy of a starmaking performance from Jessica Rothe.

71%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 144

66%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 15,955
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Movie Info

Blumhouse (Split, Get Out, Whiplash) produces an original and inventive rewinding thriller in Happy Death Day, in which a college student (Jessica Rothe, La La Land) relives the day of her murder with both its unexceptional details and terrifying end until she discovers her killer's identity. Happy Death Day is directed by Christopher Landon (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones) and written by Scott Lobdell and Landon.

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Critic Reviews for Happy Death Day

All Critics (144) | Top Critics (21)

Audience Reviews for Happy Death Day

  • Mar 11, 2019
    A well written horror Comedy led by talented Jessica Roethe and featuring a surprising twisted plot that keeps you guessing. On level with Scream and very entertaining! 03-03-2019
    Christopher O Super Reviewer
  • Dec 09, 2018
    You know, I don't think I've given Blumhouse Production credit for being a really strong production company as it relates to horror, thrillers and suspense. That's not all they do, of course, but it's what they're most known for. The film is known for Paranormal Activity (all of them, sadly), Get Out, Split, Sinister 1 and 2, Insidious (again, all of them), the entire Purge franchise, among many, many and I do mean many others, including this one (naturally). Not every one of their releases ends up being a winner, that's an unrealistic standard to expect, but they are one of the biggest horror production companies and I think it's in part due to the fact that, seemingly, the people at Blumhouse really do seem to care about their craft and they might believe in a script that, say, no one else might have looked at. In short, I've grown to have a lot of respect for Blumhouse and their place in the horror pantheon. This brings us to this movie. I was talking about Disney horror in my review of Insidious: The Last Key a few days ago. To summarize it, Disney horror is horror that is easily consumable for an audience that may not necessarily enjoy horror all that much, like your sweet-ol' grandma, as an example. At first, I was gonna include this movie in that list, but, realistically speaking, this doesn't come close to fitting that Disney horror mold in the slightest. It is a PG-13 movie, to be sure, but the style is completely different than that of the Disney mold. This is a subversion of slasher tropes under the framework that Groundhog Day laid out for us long ago, where one character relives the same day over and over and over and over again. Of course, with the minor exception that, in this movie, the lead character ends up dead at the end of the day. And you'd think that this movie following that same basic 'time loop' concept would lead to you thinking that it's just a horror version of Groundhog Day. You could make that argument and I wouldn't entirely disagree with you, but it's just that the movie does enough that feels that is its own that it doesn't feel like a shameless rip-off, because it's NOT a shameless rip-off. I will say that there is some missed potential with this movie. I'll get this right out of the way first of all, since I did like this movie so much, but Tree (Teresa, but everyone calls her tree), originally, is portrayed as someone who's incredibly unlikable and bitchy to everyone around her. She values her sorority above all else and stupid, shallow shit like that. The thing about the movie is, since Tree is such an asshole to everyone, that means that just about everyone could be her killer, particularly since Danielle (the head of the sorority, I think) was planning this surprise birthday party for her later in the night. So it could be literally anybody on campus, since this party is attended by 'everybody' and there's obviously some symbolism to Tree being murdered on her birthday. The thing about this is, however, that, again, Tree antagonizes everyone around her, I thought it would have been cool if the killer had been someone different each day. I don't know if that was an idea that was thrown around in the writing of this script but, honestly, that would have been really fucking cool and it's kind of disappointing that the movie didn't embrace the obvious golden idea they had in front of them. There IS a sequel coming up, so maybe they're gonna do some of that in there, but I don't feel it'll be as strong as it would have been in this movie, since Tree herself is already a changed person by the time the sequel starts. And, really, that's what this movie is about. Yes, it's about her trying to figure out who her murderer is and, ultimately, since she's got "unlimited lives" she can keep doing this for quite a while, but I feel that it's also about Tree coming face to face with her issues and changing who she is as a person. But, and this is another part of the movie I really liked, is the fact that all of her deaths mount up. She doesn't just die and come back all healthy. She shows signs, internally, of the injuries she's received in her prior deaths. And I thought that was really well-done, because this is not a cycle that she can keep repeating ad nauseam. She will, eventually, die on her birthday and not get a chance to do it all over again. So while the movie is a time loop, there is a sense of urgency because she doesn't know when her next leap will be the leap home. Sorry, my fandom of Quantum Leap got in the way. All of this is elevated by a great performance by Jessica Rothe, someone whom I've never seen before yesterday. She's been getting steady work in films since 2013, how prominent these roles were I do not know, but at least she was getting work, and I never came across her before. Thankfully I did with this movie because, as I mentioned, she was pretty damn great in this movie and one of the biggest reasons why the movie does end up working. Yes, the film is a subversion of slasher tropes, the writing is strong and clever, but Jessica makes a really good character into a great one. The thing about this movie is that it doesn't need to be mega violent in order to get its point across. There are some shitty slashers where, I feel, a little more violence (if it's well-done) might have artificially bumped up the score a bit. This movie doesn't need it because, again, I think it can rely on everything else surrounding Tree's deaths as opposed to deaths herself. Yes, the deaths are the impetus for the movie even existing, but they're used more as a plot device in order to explore Tree, why she is the way she is, why she doesn't want anyone to celebrate her birthday. There's, also, obviously the romance that develops between her and Carter, which is surprisingly sweet and effective. In many ways, while the movie is a subversion of 80s slashers, in some ways, it also reminds me of an 80s teen comedy with Tree's relationship with Carter and how it develops. There's a scene that's straight out of Sixteen Candles and, to me, it feels more like it's paying tribute to its obvious influences. I also liked the red herring at the end of it, when Tree finally figures out who her 'real' killer is and how she goes around fixing every mistake she ever made. She mends her relationship with her father, she signs that global warming petition, she puts a pillow under a guy who faints, she helps a guy she went on a date with embrace his homosexuality and be proud of who he is and she gets the guy (Carter), all before finally facing down and murdering who she thinks is her killer. And it works, because movies usually do those bits I just mentioned right before the movie ends and this movie uses it expertly to lead you to believe that it IS the end of the movie and Tree will finally escape the loop and move on with her life. Except, as I mentioned, it's just a red herring. It's really well-done. The reveal isn't unsatisfactory, but I still really liked my idea of there being multiple killers more, but I think the reveal and the ending works. In short, I really fucking liked this movie a lot. Perhaps even more so now that I've gone through everything. The script is really good and clever, I loved the movie's tone and Jessica Rothe is tremendous in this movie. It's obviously not perfect a perfect movie and I'm hopeful that the movie, with the inclusion of Tree's friends in the loop, will help keep things fresh. Though, really, it's bound to be the law of diminishing returns because this movie, through its concept, explored Tree and had her reform her ways. Tree had a strong character arc. I don't know how you replicate that in a sequel, when there are more people involved. How do you keep the sequel from feeling the same, just with a few more characters going through the loop? There's some interesting things they can do and the trailer did look like it's gonna have some space-time continuum breaking moments, as there are two versions of the same character facing each other in one short scene in the trailer. What happens when someone dies? Do they all die at the same time??? It could actually be really interesting and I hope they find a way to develop the additional characters. Regardless, that's neither here nor there, I really enjoyed this movie and I would easily recommend it horror nerds and someone who wants something a little more casual, I think it works for both audiences. Not your sweet-ol' grandma though, I don't think she'll get it.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Dec 09, 2018
    As a fan of the slasher genre, seeing a rebirth in this Groundhog Day sort of scenario was a fun take. I like seeing the similar story of a character forced to become a better person, having fun with her god-like world knowledge, all the repeating day tropes we know and love but with the added gimmick of masked killer chasing after her. It was fun spin on the genre, and it made for a fun movie, and Jessica Rothe made a solid lead and gave some solid character growth. The eventual killer reveal was a little lacking, but that was part of the comedy in it all. Really my biggest gripe with the movie was that for a slasher movie, the kills were all super weak, and with this type of premise there's so much potential for great kills. But alas, they wanted that teen audience. Still, it's a fun enough movie.
    Michael M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 09, 2018
    Scream meets Groundhog Day in the satiric horror film Happy Death Day. Tree Gelbman discovers that she's trapped living the same day over and over again, being killed by a masked stranger, and attempts to break the cycle by finding out who her killer is. Jessica Rothe gives a pretty strong performance and does a good job at subtly changing the character as she goes through the different death cycles. However, the murder mystery isn't really that interesting or well-constructed. In fact, the killer and their motivation seem rather arbitrary. Happy Death Day is a weak slasher film, but it has a fun concept and is entertaining.
    Dann M Super Reviewer

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