Happy Death Day: It’s Groundhog Day meets Scream in enjoyable slasher
A murdered college student is forced to relive the gruesome day of her demise in Christopher Landon's waggish and sprightly slasher, which splices uproarious comedy Groundhog Day with self-referential teen horror Scream.
Gore frequently trumps giggles during Happy Death Day but the tantalising dramatic conceit of a distraught heroine stuck in a tragic groove provides screenwriter Scott Lobdell with a rich seam of black humour and female empowerment.
He relishes killing off his central character in myriad grisly scenarios, including a farcical montage of slaughter set to a jaunty pop soundtrack.
With each knife to the stomach or broken glass to the throat, the victim undergoes a gradual transformation from an unsympathetic, self-absorbed, emotionally cold vixen to a painfully self-aware, humbled young woman we can root for.
Tree Gelbman (Rothe) wakes bleary-eyed in the dorm room of nerd Carter Davis (Israel Broussard), nursing a pounding headache from the alcohol-sodden night before.
She takes the walk of shame back to her sorority house, offending several students en route including creepy first date Tim (Caleb Spillyards), before clashing briefly with queen bee Danielle (Rachel Matthews).
Roommate Lori (Ruby Modine) surprises Tree with a cupcake for her birthday and the hungover heroine cruelly dumps the freshly baked gift in the bin.
As night falls, a masked assailant stabs Tree to death and she wakes in Carter's bed, doomed to repeat her final day, over and over.
Happy Death Day sensibly avoids a ham-fisted explanation for Tree's terrifying time loop and simply asks us to suspend disbelief in exchange for vicarious thrills.
Gently embrace the madness.