By Josie Clark

Minor spoilers follow.

The "Happy Death Day" logo is the title frosted on a white and red birthday cake.

(Source: Vimeo)

“Happy Death Day” is a new horror-comedy with a “Groundhog Day” twist. Doomed to relive her “death day” until she finds her killer, Tree (played by Jessica Rothe, and yes, her name is Tree) repeats her birthday over and over again. This is an interesting enough premise to keep your attention throughout the movie.

Meant to appeal to college students, Tree is your average mean sorority girl who values her reputation more than other people’s feelings. Her lines are incredibly cheesy; it sounds like the writer had never met a college student before.

When Tree wakes up in an unknown dorm room after a blackout night, she is quick to leave before anyone sees her there. On her way back to her sorority house, she sees various markers that become relevant when she repeats the day. The first day is the same as any: getting questioned by her sorority sisters, ignoring her dad’s calls, fat shaming her fellow sisters, making out with her teacher and then getting murdered on her way to a party; you know, the usual.

The killer, wearing a creepy baby mask, stands behind Tree.

Tree about to be murdered for the third time in “Happy Death Day”. (Source: Vimeo)

Then, she wakes up in the same dorm room as her “death day” to the same guy. At first, everything just seems like really strange deja vu. Trying to avoid dying again, she takes a different route and ends up at her surprise birthday party, where she is once again murdered. Realizing this will keep happening, she confides in Carter (Israel Broussard), the boy whose dorm she keeps waking up in. Once he hears she’ll keep dying until she can find the killer, he suggests using her seemingly unlimited lives to do so.

Cue the find-your-killer montage. This is easily the funniest part of the movie; she stalks each suspect and learns some very personal things about them. Each time she dies, she gets a little more wild, once even leaving the dorm room completely nude. After dying for about the 14th time, she awakens in the dorm and immediately collapses. She finds out she’s running out of time to find the killer and loses faith.

Then, a very lucky plot device happens to give her new hope. She immediately finds out who her killer is; knowing this, she spends the day making amends and setting her life in the right direction. It’s a lot like “Groundhog Day” and it’s sweet to see how much she’s grown as a person. After an exciting climax of finding the murderer and killing them, she shares a tender “16 Candles” moment with Carter and all seems well. This is a very happy ending and it seems too easy to be true. That’s because it is.

In what should be the next day, Tree wakes again in the same room, because this is a horror movie, and there always has to be a twist. Now, I won’t be giving this twist away but for anyone who’s ever seen a horror movie, it’s pretty obvious from the beginning. While the twist might be predictable, it’s done in a great way and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

The whole movie is pretty funny and actually sweet at times. If it wasn’t for the murder, it could be considered a romantic comedy. Tree and Carter’s budding romance is pleasant but a little out of place. If the movie tried to be any more serious, then it wouldn’t have worked at all. But it’s the casual and funny demeanor the movie puts off that makes romance and horror work.

My overall rating of “Happy Death Day” is a solid 7/10. If you really like quirky horror movies, I would recommend seeing it in theaters. From comedy to gore, this movie has something everyone can enjoy.

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