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Happy Death Day review: a fun, trashy comedy-thriller

Most people are afraid of death. Most people would tell you they don’t want to be murdered. Not by anyone, but especially not by some unknown human in a creepy baby mask. And especially not on your birthday.

So imagine your disdain if you were forced to relive the day of your murder again and again until you figured out how to stop dying. And there you have the entire plot of Happy Death Day.

You may think that can’t be all there is, but no: Theresa is a terrible college student with many an enemy, who, after waking up hungover in a random bro’s dorm room, is forced to relive her birthday and subsequent murder over and over until she figures out who did it.

Happy Death Day is a fun comedy-thriller that tickles any taste you may have for mystery, jump scares, and young adult romance that will leave you shouting at characters’ bad choices while drinking in all of the nonsense the film throws your way.

In this way, the film is much like a tall and tilting Jenga tower: a masterpiece from which you can’t avert your gaze, but one prod and it collapses into a mess you don’t really want to clean up.

This tightrope-walk over plot holes is almost what makes the film so exciting, though. Because, really, who cares if in one iteration a character’s entrance is 30 seconds earlier? Who cares why Dorm Bro is so forgiving? Or if half the characters even need to be there?

There’s a murder to be solved, and damn it if we’ll be distracted by narrative inconsistencies!

It’s with this mindset the cast also navigate their performances: as over-the-top as the film allows, while maintaining a disengaging charm throughout. You’re not likely to fall in love with anyone on the screen if you’re not currently going through puberty, but you’ll find yourself rooting for these unfleshed-out strangers just the same.

It’s not difficult to see Happy Death Day being a hit with teenagers, who are young enough to have little connection to Groundhog Day, but just old enough to think watching hot people repeatedly die is a good way to spend one and a half hours.

And they won’t be wrong. The low-budget film is a refreshing breather from the onslaught of blockbusters we’re soon to encounter, and will have you pondering all the ways it shouldn’t have worked well after you leave the cinema.

And anyway, most people would tell you they don’t want to be murdered. Not by anyone, but especially not by some unknown human in a creepy baby mask. And especially not on your birthday.

Author | Julia Breakey

Julia Breakey
Julia is a UCT film graduate with a passion for dogs, media, and dog-centric media. If she's not gushing about the new television show that you need to watch, she's rewatching The Good Place (which you need to watch). More

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