My first introduction to horror movies was the slasher craze of the 90's. They're ridiculously campy, but completely entertaining. Scream in particular is an all time fave because of the way that it parodies the genre while still being a part of it. It plays with tropes and doesn't take itself too seriously in the process. Happy Death Day is the first movie that I've felt recaptures that spirit, and it was such a blast to watch.
So imagine Scream as Groundhog Day and throw in a little Mean Girls. Tree (played fabulously by Jessica Rothe, potentially star making turn) lives through what seems like a typical birthday in college, complete with class, covert trysts, and a frat party thrown in her honor. Oh except she never makes it to the party because she's killed on the way there. And then she wakes up right back where she started her day. Thus she's stuck in a loop until she can figure out who keeps on killing her.
As I said in my Stardust reaction, if a horror movie is not gonna be a masterpiece (and few are), I would much rather it double down on the cheese than the scares. I am much more likely to get invested in a movie that's fun than one that's overly serious. Cheap jump scare movies don't do it for me. Campy thrillers do.
Happy Death Day doesn't even try to be serious. It knows it's place in the world, and that's always an admirable quality in a film. It plays up the cheese factor and embraces it, much in the same way that Scream did. It picks apart horror tropes and Groundhog day tropes, particularly the latter. I loved some of the creative curveballs it threw into the genres, keeping it just a bit unpredictable. Even if I figured out the killer pretty quickly, these movies were never about who did it. They're about surviving long enough to find out who did it.
In all honestly, and this is a sentence I never expected to type, this was some of the most fun I've had the movies all year. We're looking at a potential top ten contender for me. And I am oh so pleasantly surprised.
Happy Death Day – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/