Only pen reviews for Oscar contenders? As if!
Happy Death Day, which most certainly won't be barnstorming the awards season (but will probably prove more satisfying than a number of actual contenders), is a horror-comedy blast, a lively roller coaster ride that strikes that same balance of chills and giggles as the first two Scream entries. Like the Wes Craven pics, this isn't a genuinely terrifying film or a piece of cinema that deserves to be anywhere near an all-time best list in horror. Still, it's a lot of fun.
Jessica Rothe is pitch-perfect as sorority girl Tree who, as the film opens, is the most unpleasantly self-absorbed of sights. On her birthday, she wakes up in the bed of fellow student Carter (Israel Broussard) and proceeds to spread her misery over him, her sorority sisters, some dude she recently dated, the professor she's been sleeping with and virtually anyone else who crosses her path. That evening, in a spooky tunnel no sane person would walk through at night, she is stabbed to death by a masked killer.
Then, she wakes up. In Carter's bed, again. Tree finds herself reliving that same day and, guess what - she's again bludgeoned by this mystery man (or woman) donning a mask of the school mascot (which, inexplicably, is an infant baby). As this cycle continues, Tree's chilly demeanor softens and, desperate to bring this never-ending nightmare to an end, she opens up to the kind Carter for help in devising a strategy.
The film, directed by Christopher Landon and written by Scott Lobdell, has its fair share of clunky dialogue (exchanges like "Tree, I can't see you today, I have a ton of patients on my schedule"/"Look man, I'm running out of patience today") and again, isn't especially blood-curdling, but Rothe's spirited, winsome leading turn and Landon's expert staging of the slasher sequences more than make up for the film's faults.
Oh, and moviegoers who find farts devastatingly funny are bound to die from laughter via one particularly indelible and surprising moment in the picture.