Movie Review: Happy Death Day (2017)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2017 mystery thriller starring Jessica Rothe and Israel Broussard.

Synopsis: Still mourning her mother's death, college student Tree Gelbman is reluctant to celebrate her birthday. While on her way to a party, she is stalked down and murdered by an assailant wearing a mask. She wakes up to discover she is re-living the same day and will continue to do so with the same result until she figures out who the killer is.


I had some serious doubts about this film when I first saw the trailer for it and, while it was on my Netflix DVD list, it was toward the bottom. So, needless to say, I was a bit surprised when I received the DVD in the mail.

As a result of this, it took a while for my wife and I to get around to watching this movie and only did so yesterday because it was too cold outside to do anything else. Unfortunately, it pretty much turned out to be what I expected it to be.

I'll start out by saying this movie is misclassified as a horror movie/thriller. Early on, it might have squeaked by as one. But, as the movie progressed, it became much more of a comedy, especially as Tree (Rothe) went to great lengths to figure out the killer, only to wind up killed in a more brutal fashion each time. Let's just say it was a bit too much like Groundhog Day and not enough like Scream.

I probably could have tolerated that if the movie at least had a remotely interesting mystery. But, as it turns out, it really wasn't overly difficult to figure out who the killer was. My wife guessed it a short while into the movie and, despite numerous potential other suspects and an extremely poor attempt at a red herring, I really found no reason to disagree with her.

A large part of the reason for this is the movie made it pretty clear the killer knew it was her birthday. This fact automatically eliminates a good chunk of the people the writers want us to suspect and makes it pretty easy to narrow it down. Heck, even the killer's motive wasn't that tough to figure out.

The one thing I did find I liked about this film was the way Tree wasn't given an unlimited amount of attempts to figure out who her killer was and, with each successful murder, she would wake up weaker. However, even this proved lack something because the film was very inconsistent. For example, when she gets hit in the head with a bat, she wakes up with symptoms of that. But, when she gets blown up, she wakes up virtually unscratched. I would think that would at least have resulted in her having some burn marks on her.

Final Opinion

I thought this had an OK premise. But, the decision to make it a comedy and the weak mystery did result in it not being as good as it could have been.

My Grade: D

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Updated: 01/20/2019, StevenHelmer
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