Happy Death Day: a Film Review

Please forgive me, dear readers, for my prolonged tardiness. I have no excuse to offer you. Consistency is my biggest challenge as a blogger. It’s hard to carve out the time to post regularly, and even harder to motivate myself to sit down to write. However, I now present to you a review of the film HappyDeathDay, as promised.happy-death-day

Let me start by saying that I loved this movie. It’s a quirky hybrid of rom-com and horror, something I have come to think of as “YA Horror,” although I
don’t mean this derogatorily. The film seems very meta, like it’s aware of it’s own goofiness but remains unashamed. The film is also obviously referencing GroundhogDay, something that is even mentioned in the film’s closing scene. If you haven’t seen the trailer (or the movie) Happy DeathDay uses the same device employed by Groundhog Day,  in that it depicts the events of one day, but that one day is lived over and over again.

HappyDeathDay is the goofy, charming, light-hearted yet suspenseful, coming of age story of Tree Gelbman. Tree is a self-centered, shallow sorority girl, using her pretty face to coast through life and get what she wants. This year, on her birthday she wakes up in an unfamiliar dorm room with a boy she doesn’t know. A charming, lovable nerd named Carter. Tree is horrified, and commands Carter not to breathe a word to anyone. Tree walk-of –shames herself back to the (verrrrrry nice) sorority house she shares with a dozen other less-attractive versions of herself, engages in a snarky spat with her frenemy Danielle, before finally managing to make it back to her room. When Tree makes it to her bedroom, the audience is introduced to Tree’s sweet roommate, Laurie. Laurie has lovingly baked Tree a cupcake for her birthday, and Tree promptly throws it in the garbage, claiming that it contains too many calories. We as viewers then learn that Tree is banging her (married) professor, that she consistently ignores her dad, and is incapable of maintaining a genuine friendship. Then we see her get murdered as she is walking to a party, and the entire cycle begins again.

If you were to strip this film down, you would see that at the end of the day, this is a movie about being a good person. It reiterates the idea that what goes around comes around. As Tree struggles to learn who her killer is, and avoid being killed, the viewer witnesses her facing her demons head on and acknowledge the things about herself that she has been suppressing. However, this is where it gets a little murky. As Tree realizes that she hasn’t been a good person, she switches from bullying innocent bystander to bullying the peppy, self-centered, two-faced leader of her sorority. While this character  isn’t a good person either, more bullying is still not the answer to being bullied. She also litters, in this scene, and I feel like that is definitely not something that nice people do. BUT, those are really my only two gripes about this movie, because on the whole I found it to be thoroughly enjoyable.

If you see Happy DeathDay and you like it as much as I did, you may also enjoy watching WarmBodies and BeautifulCreatures. Two other films of this ilk, that also blend horror and rom-com.

warm bodies            Beautiful_Creatures_One,4D_low_res

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Author: Lee Ann Fryman

Lee Ann is a poet, fiction writer, and blogger located in Lexington, Kentucky. She received an MA in English from Northern Kentucky University, and has BAs in Theatre and English from Morehead State University.

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