“Happy Death Day”: Another Blumhouse Masterpiece

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"Happy Death Day" presents a gripping tale while utilizing different cinematic techniques.

Lauren Brown, Staff Writer

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“Happy Death Day” is a comedic horror film directed by Christopher B. Landon and written by Scott Lobdell. The story follows college student Theresa “Tree” Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) as she is forced to relive her birthday until she can discover who is murdering her. Blumhouse Production has been responsible for a number of iconic movies to take on the horror genre, such as “Get Out,” “The Purge,” and “Split”. The studio has always managed to create imaginative and horrifying stories with an extremely low budget, and “Happy Death Day” is no different. With a budget of only 4.8 million dollars, “Happy Death Day” was able to achieve the level of professional cinematography and setting that other movies should look to as an example.


“Happy Death Day” can be seen as training wheels for someone new to the horror genre, possessing moments of comedic effect and small jump scares to startle the audience, but not enough to truly grip one with horror. Surprisingly, this slasher flick has very little gore and on-screen deaths throughout the movie. The choice to have a very “Scream”-esque movie include only a minuscule amount of blood was a risky move by Blumhouse. However, this risk is most definitely worth it as it engages the audience to become more fixated on the mystery of the movie rather than the blood and guts. “Happy Death Day” can be classified more as a mystery and a thriller because of this aspect but the downgrade from horror to thriller should not turn one off from seeing this film.


Reading through the cast list for the film, most would not be able to recognize the lead or any of the other actors for that matter. While the film may not have any high ranking, A-list actors in its cast, the performance that was given in “Happy Death Day” was impeccable. Jessica Rothe is wonderful in her performance as Tree. It was very apparent throughout the movie how Rothe gave her character small mannerisms as she slowly became more and more upset about the time loop. Rothe is also very talented in her style of developing Tree’s character as the story progresses. When the audience meets Tree, she is rude and cold to those around her. However, as the movie develops and Tree has multiple time loops under her belt, she begins to understand how to be a better person and be kinder to those around her. While some movies that have attempted this fast and drastic character development only to appear to be rushed or forced, “Happy Death Day” is successful in smoothly developing their lead from a bratty sorority girl to a selfless heroine in its allotted one and a half hours of runtime.


The mystery throughout “Happy Death Day” revolves around Tree, a time loop, and an insistent killer; the film only addresses two of these aspects. At the end of the movie, the killer is revealed to the audience. In addition, the significance of the date the time loop takes place on is revealed. Tree’s mother had the same birthday, but died unexpectedly, explaining the importance of her birthday and why it may be chosen as the day to be looped. However, the time loop itself is never addressed at all in the film pertaining to why this is happening and how. The reason for the unexplained time loop may be because of a sequel that will explain the nature of the time warp more in-depth than the movie’s runtime could allow. Director Christopher Landon mentioned a sequel being in the works sometime soon and stated, “it’s definitely not what anyone is expecting.” So until the sequel comes out, there may never be an answer to this mystery.


Where the movie is weak in its scares, it is strong in its character, story, and comedy. “Happy Death Day” is recommended to a weak-hearted audience for its lack of gore and horror; however, the story and humor is appropriate for just about everybody.


(4 out of 5 stars)

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