What’s Poppin: “Happy Death Day”

Ariana Ortiz, Co-News Editor

In Christopher B. Landon’s “Happy Death Day,” sorority girl Tree (Jessica Rothe) repeats the same day on a seemingly eternal loop that begins with her birthday and ends in her murder–the setup may feel all too familiar after Harold Ramis’ cult classic “Groundhog Day.” However, “Happy Death Day” takes the premise that the former made famous and successfully marries it with a smart, darkly comedic slasher movie reminiscent of “Scream.”

Rothe as self-centered mean girl Tree is fun to hate at first, but the urge to cheer for her is almost inescapable despite her many, many flaws. There is also a gradual change in her that feels genuine and well-executed (and only the tiniest bit cheesy) for a mere 96-minute runtime.

The movie is rife with tension—Will Tree avoid being killed this time? Who is her killer?—but avoids being exhausting thanks to good pacing and moments of comedic relief interspersed throughout. Sorority sister Danielle, played brilliantly by Rachel Matthews, is the center of many of these gags, and also provides a vicious glimpse into Tree’s former self.

Israel Broussard as Carter, a clueless but kind do-gooder whose dorm room Tree repetitively begins her day in, begins as little more than part of the scenery in Tree’s nightmarish situation, but shines in the latter half of the movie in a romantic subplot that is surprisingly fitting.

“Happy Death Day” is billed as a mystery and thriller, which it embodies exceptionally; the persisting question of who her killer is, and the more immediate one of what may lurk behind every corner makes for a movie is not only perfect for the season, but feels like it may have a shelf life far beyond that.

Despite the comparisons, “Happy Death Day” stands on its own as a satisfying take on dark comedy and horror that viewers would be hard-pressed to look away from.