A movie theater is a welcoming place that is supposed to be an escape, where people can pass the time with friends and enjoy a captivating, funny or dramatic of film. As a teenage girl, the most memorable and drama-filled movie for me was “Mean Girls,” and ever since that groundbreaking movie, all else has seemed hopelessly disappointing — until now.
Initially, the genre of the movie “Happy Death Day” can be quite misleading, as it is a mystery thriller. Only when you look beyond, through the “never judge a movie by its poster” saying, will you be able to uncover this enticing story.
The movie begins with a self-centered sorority girl, Tree (Jessica Rothe), who is cursed with a recurring nightmare that happens on her birthday. Instantly, the first scene took me right back to my childhood days, consisting of girl drama and cute boys and resulting in instant nostalgia. Each day she is tasked with discovering who is trying to kill her in real life, while classic girl drama and mockery of sorority life keeps the repetitive days interesting and often comedic. The violence in the film is almost overwhelming, but the thoughtfully implemented balance between lighthearted scenes and gruesome ones keep the audience hooked.
The nightmare begins and ends each day in the same place, with Tree ending up in the room of a student named Carter (Israel Broussard). Soon this nightmare turns into a mystery that brings attention to the flaws in the person that she has become. The rerun of each day causes Tree’s feelings for Carter to surface as she spends more and more time with him, especially considering she’s waking up in his room everyday.
Each day, as Tree tries to figure out the purpose of her nightmare, the event of her mom’s death three years prior is often painful for her to reflect on. Tree was not only close to her mother, but they also shared the same birthday, the most bittersweet day of all. Through the thrill violence and comedy that is prevalent in this captivating film, the moments of seriousness are genuine and real, and Tree’s pain is clear.
Jessica Rothe proves her standing as an actress, demonstrating her abilities in a captivating role that attracts individuals of all ages, especially teenage girls, but that also has a meaningful takeaway. Tree’s outfits show the average college girl that she is, and the girl she’s trying to reconnect with before her mom passed. Enhancing the pain Tree feels, the movie’s soundtrack is appropriate and dictating of the audience’s emotion, as the genre crosses between drama, comedy and action.
The recurring day began to get old around the fifth time as I was watching. Although this lapse is a bore, the violence quickly revives the movie and reactivates the mystery. Each time I thought I knew who killed Tree, I was proved wrong, which created a guessing game for me.
Carter (Israel Bussard) is a kind, understanding, shy and nerdy college boy, the opposite of Tree. His genuine character causes Tree to realize the truly dark and shallow girl that she has become. Disgusted with herself, the girl that Tree always wanted her mom to be proud of is undiscovered.
As Tree gets closer and closer to the certainty of who her killer is, it is revealed that the movie has tricked the audience the entire time. This trick was clever, and honestly frustrating considering the answer was in front of me the entire time.
Happy Death Day didn’t over-do the classic petty sorority girl trope, or the creepy killer stereotype.
It turns out there is hope for me and movies after all.