Tree, Jessica Rothe, faces off with the baby-faced killer in Happy Death Day. Photo: Supplied
Tree, Jessica Rothe, faces off with the baby-faced killer in Happy Death Day. Photo: Supplied

If it is your birthday, you will die #HappyDeathDay

By Masego Panyane Time of article published Oct 20, 2017

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‘OHHH it’s my birthday, I don’t need to pick up my phone!” This is the ringtone that signals the beginning of the day for young popular girl Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) who goes through possibly the most terrifying birthday.

Tree finds herself stuck in the same day, her birthday, and is forced to relive the day and dies each time.

She is stuck in the time loop until she successfully uncovers who her killer is and stops her untimely death. The killer happens to be clad in black tracksuits, and a baby face mask (the school’s mascot).

This makes the killer seem more sinister. The modes of murdering Tree differ significantly, she is stabbed repeatedly, shot, hit by a car and burnt alive. After some time though, watching her die is no longer the focal point, but how she fails to get out of the death.

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Watching the film, it is slightly difficult to ignore the clear reference the movie makes to the 1993 American fantasy-comedy Groundhog Day. Starring Bill Murray in the role of Phil Connors, the film tells the story of a weatherman who’s stuck in a time loop and eventually decides to use these many chances at the same day, to fix his life. It also features references to the films Scream (1996) and the parody of the slasher/mystery/horror genres Scary Movie (2000) in the more comical elements of the film.

Tree, Jessica Rothe, faces off with the baby-faced killer in Happy Death Day. Photo: Supplied

Rothe pulls off a beautiful and charming sorority girl in her portrayal of Tree, and watching her navigate her death and fighting to survive it forces the viewer to develop some sense of camaraderie with her.

Her accidental love interest Carter (Israel Broussard) becomes an important part of her journey to not dying as he becomes a source of advice for her each time she wakes up to tackle the day.

Tree wakes up in his dorm room and bed, something that Carter explains sheepishly at the beginning of each day happened because she was drunk the night before and demanded to go home with him.

He makes it clear however that nothing happened between them. Carter is created to be the ultimate nerd, who couldn’t possibly have the luck of dating the popular, pretty girl. Until now.

The film is cheesy and cute, especially it’s subtext that rallies around the idea of being a good person, and how Tree resolving her issues could possibly lead to her surviving the whip of karma which will keep her in the time loop should she not oblige. There’s enough soppiness in the film to give viewers a reprieve from the violent death Tree suffers each time.

The scene of Tree with her father David (Jason Bayle) is gold for emotion.

The harmony between the cast is also palatable, they seem to all gel well with one another. The film’s ability to not take itself too seriously is probably what makes it most enjoyable.

* Happy Death Day opens at cinemas today.



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