HAPPY DEATH DAY
The script (from X-Men comic-book writer Scott Lobdell) has essentially been cooked up as the idea of marrying Groundhog Day (1993) with a slasher film. This is an idea that sounds either potentially interesting or so gimmicky as to be ridiculous. One of the least likely things I would have predicted when watching Groundhog Day when it first came out twenty-four years ago is that its premise a romantic comedy in which Bill Murray ends up living the same day over and over would become a cliche. Nevertheless, the timeloop plot has formed the basis of a large number of films since then including 12:01 (1993), Retroactive (1997), Repeaters (2010), Source Code (2011), Edge of Tomorrow (2014), ARQ (2016), Before I Fall (2017) and Naked (2017), even an entire tv series Day Break (2006-7). Happy Death Day is the fourth variant on the Groundhog Day theme that I have had occasion to review in the last twelve months. Indeed, the Groundhog Day scenario has become such a trope by now that the film here even has a scene where the characters sit about comparing their situation to the film.
In the films he has directed, Christopher Landon has a habit of taking potentially good ideas and turning them into anodyne, middle-of-the-road films. The most you can say of Happy Death Day is that Landon lets it pass as an inoffensively formulaic effort albeit, one that seems to have anything that remotely pushes the envelope or that could be construed as interesting trimmed from it in the editing room. The film has an interesting central character arc where Jessica Rothe starts as a bitch and proceeds to mellow and start treating people nicer throughout the course of the story (the same one that also played out in the abovementioned Before I Fall). Probably the scripts most interesting twist is the scene where she gives up the opportunity to kill serial killer Rob Mello and opts instead to hang herself on the realisation that this ending the timeloop would also mean the death of the guy she likes.
The various attacks by the masked killer are unexceptional certainly, lacking in any real tension where the only thing you note is how the killer has uncanny foresight that improbably allows them to turn up all over the place no matter where Jessica Rothe goes. That and the unintentional campiness of a climactic scene that involves two girls fighting over the eating of a cupcake.
Jason Blum and his Blumhouse production company have produced a number of other genre films including:- Hamlet (2000), Paranormal Activity (2007) and sequels, Insidious (2010) and sequels, Tooth Fairy (2010), The Bay (2012), The Lords of Salem (2012), The River (tv series, 2012), Sinister (2012) and sequel, Dark Skies (2013), Oculus (2013), The Purge (2013) and sequels, the tv mini-series Ascension (2014), Creep (2014), Jessabelle (2014), Mercy (2014), Mockingbird (2014), Not Safe for Work (2014), Ouija (2014) and sequel, 13 Sins (2014), The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014), Unfriended/Cybernatural (2014), Area 51 (2015), The Boy Next Door (2015), Curve (2015), The Gallows (2015), The Gift (2015), Jem and the Holograms (2015), The Lazarus Effect (2015), Martyrs (2015), Visions (2015), The Visit (2015), The Darkness (2016), Hush (2016), Incarnate (2016), The Veil (2016), Viral (2016), Amityville: The Awakening (2017), Get Out (2017), The Keeping Hours (2017), Split (2017) and Stephanie (2017).