The movie plot of a person caught in a mysterious time loop to relive one day over and over is not unique to “Happy Death Day,” but, it does have an interesting hook: A murder victim gets to relive the day of her death to find her killer and find out why.
The setting is Bayfield University and the character is Theresa “Tree” Gelbman (Jessica Rothe), a beautiful sorority girl who awakes in a dorm room after a night of fun and alcohol, to her host, nice guy Carter (Israel Broussard).
It is Tree’s birthday, but to her, it is just another day of aimlessly attending college with less interest in studies and more interest in dating cute guys.
As she passes the campus, a series of random things happen: an artsy goth dude eyes her, a protester asks for her signature, a couple gets sprayed on by the sprinklers, a car alarm goes off and a group of fraternity pledges are goaded into singing without sleep.
All seems well until Tree goes to a party but instead meets a stranger wearing the mask of the school’s mascot, the Bayfield Baby. She chalks it up to someone playing a joke until the stranger pulls out a knife.
Tree wakes up to find she is back in the dorm room with Carter doing the same stuff he was doing when she first woke up. As she leaves, a similar trail of events take place. So begins her journey of going through the same day which leads to her being killed and waking up in the same bed.
The film was produced by Blumhouse Productions which is becoming a new staple in high-profile horror films such as “Get Out” and “The Purge.” The success continues with this little gem of a slasher movie directed by Christopher B. Landon of the "Paranormal Activity" series and scripted by comic book writer Scott Lobdell.
While there are different ways Tree meets her end from the classic butcher knife to more creative methods (potheads beware, a bong is used in an incident), there are a number of humorous moments to help steer this film along from the stereotypical sorority sisters who obsessively count calories to the hyper college dude who refers to an evening with a girl.
The actors are all game for the material especially with star Rothe having found a breakthrough role that showcases comedy and screaming. She connects with the audience enough to make you root for her to the end.
Or should I say “ends.”