I will be the first to admit that the concept seemed cheesy, and I like a good cheesy horror movie, and didn’t know that if it could work. But you know what? It really, really worked. Happy Death Day is a solidly entertaining addition to the horror/thriller genre.
The movie is a is a mix between Groundhog Day and Scream, and manages to keep things fresh until the end of the movie. The story goes like this: Theresa “Tree” (Jessica Rothe) is a blissfully self-centered collegian who wakes up on her birthday in the bed of a student named Carter (Israel Broussard). As the morning goes on, Tree gets the eerie feeling that she's experienced the events of this day before. When a masked killer suddenly takes her life in a brutal attack, she once again magically wakes up in Carter's dorm room unharmed. Now, the frightened young woman must relive the same day over and over until she figures out who murdered her.
The days very in certain ways(sometimes she talks to the professor she is hooking up with, other times she spends a little bit more time with Carter), but then day always ends the same: with her death in different ways. What keeps the story from getting repetitive is that it's able to turn the plot into a mystery instead of your typical horror movie.
There is very, very little gore. Instead, the film focuses on Tree uncovering the identity of her killer. This ends up being a hilarious sequence of her strutting through the quad naked, dying her hair neon pink, donning military face paint and tactical gear to spy on suspects, and getting taken out in increasingly brutal, splatter-free ways (including taking a jagged piece of a bong to the neck).
Jessica Rothe is spectacular in her role. She starts out as sorority girl stereotype, but changes into a completely new character by the time the last butcher knife stabs her away. This type of movie where the character relives the same day over again always has those boring monologues where the character stats how much they have learned and are going to change, but it doesn’t sound as cheesy coming from Rothe. She is naturally hilarious, and when Tree finally realizes that none of her wild actions truly matter, Rothe really shines.
The introduction of a few twists definitely keeps the plot from not dragging and will keep the audience on the edge of their seat. The unexpected avenues Tree has to navigate through as the movie picks up will have fully engaged in the mystery.