Horror-comedy ‘Happy Death Day’ reasonably kills it with ‘Groundhog Day’ formula – Orange County Register

What if you could relive the worst birthday of your life again and again?

Wait, don’t answer yet. It ends with you being brutally killed, in one way or another.


This Friday the 13th brings “Happy Death Day” — a slasher film-meets-“Groundhog Day”-meets a college rom-com.

It’s an odd mix, yet, oddly, a mostly winning one.

That’s not entirely surprising considering it comes from production company Blumhouse, which earlier this year found itself with a major hit in another genre-bending horror flick, the highly entertaining “Get Out.” While “Happy Death Day” doesn’t have anything remotely as culturally interesting as writer-director Jordan Peele’s, um, unusual examination of racial issues in “Get Out” and isn’t nearly as bold, it does pack an hour and a half of reasonably strong entertainment.

We meet sorority chick Tree (Jessica Rothe), a student at fictional Bayfield University in Louisiana, as she awakens in a strange bed.

“Am I in a dorm room?” she asks, clearly out of sorts.

“Um, yeah,” says a young man in the room, whose name, unknown to her, is Carter (Israel Broussard of “The Bling Ring”), and with whom she apparently spent the night.

She ignores a call from her dad, apparently calling to wish her a happy birthday, asks Carter for some Tylenol to attack her binge drinking-related headache, grabs her clothes and heads on her way, telling the out-of-his-league Carter he is not to speak of their night together.

She returns to her sorority house, where she first encounters witchy alpha female Danielle (newcomer Rachel Matthews) and then her roommate, the much nicer if still a-bit-judgmental Lori (Ruby Modine of “Shameless”). Lori, having snooped Tree’s driver’s license, presents her with a cupcake and a single candle, which Tree — who’s rather witchy herself — rejects on her way out as she realizes she’s late for class.

“Sorry, too many carbs,” Tree snottily tells Lori. “Toodles.”


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