Despite a masked killer with a knife, Happy Death Day is less a slasher horror and more a modern take on Groundhog Day (a similarity it acknowledges explicitly), as sorority girl Tree Gelbman finds herself reliving the same day on a loop after being murdered. Jessica Rothe is effective at humanising a selfish and self-involved woman who begins to change. Much like Groundhog Day, the film is at its best when Tree starts to lean into the concept and enjoy herself; it is at its weakest when it falls back into standard slasher territory as, despite some creative camerawork, interest rapidly wanes. There is nothing deep here, but it is enjoyable and surprisingly fresh without lingering too long.
“It’s weird and somewhat off-putting to be congratulated on doing nothing more than accepting a note and having an ass pocket for someone to stick their hand into, but I guess that’s where my life has taken me.”
A derivative but quietly charming high school drama, its unlikely initial premise swiftly falls into a familiar “fake relationship” plot but — despite the lack of surprises — the charismatic leads evoke a genuine desire for them to acknowledge their feelings. The melodrama of high school students may not have changed much in the past few decades, but this is still a fresh update for the modern generation.