Review Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Spoilers incite déjà vu!
Who doesn’t think those awful sorority girls, the cheerleader drill sergeants who take duck-face selfies and defiantly don’t recall what breakfast is, should get their comeuppance in a movie at least once? That is entirely what ‘Happy Death Day’ is about, and we should, like totes seriously, dive right in!
Meet Teresa, or Tree (Jessica Rothe) as most of her sorority sisters call her, and I’m not even kidding either. She’s rude and obnoxious, condescending and abrupt, drinks herself into oblivion and bangs guys she knows damn well her friends and fellow sorority sisters or “sors” have designs on, and has no fucks to give about anyone but herself. And it’s this drinking and uncaring that landed her in the current jam, where we begin: waking in Carter’s dorm room after a rabble-rousing alcohol binge the previous night.
Carter (Israel Broussard) suffers from the eternal nice-guy syndrome, and he keeps popping up seemingly randomly in Tree’s life throughout the course of her day. The not-breakfast meeting with her fellow cheerleader sors and a shower of chocolate milk, plus a well-intentioned return of some jewelry, indicates that Carter will have something to do with the biggest problem Tree’s ever encountered, currently still on-going.
What problem, you ask? Her day is repeating, Groundhog Day-style, but always ending with Tree’s death at the hands of some masked and hooded psycho. The walk of shame from Carter’s dorm room back to her sorority house only gets Tree into more eye-rolling confrontations with her fellow sors, no-one more so than her roommate, Lori, who just wants to give her roomie a birthday cupcake she made herself, from scratch even. The first go-round has Tree being an unbelievable c*nt to everyone, but poor Lori really un-takes the cake, the cupcake in this instance, by Tree sneering at her roommates surprise and tossing the little confection into the garbage before hurrying out. Lori (Ruby Modine) is justifiably devastated.
Well at this point, we’ve all begun rooting for Tree to get met with something horrible. There’s a dance tonight that everyone expects Tree to attend as a fellow sor, but before she can continue on her merry bitchy way, a little birthday music box and a murderous tunnel encounter slams her back to Carter’s dorm room!
That was round one. Round two finds Tree stumbling about, experiencing déjà vu as her day repeats with only teeny tiny minor variations, and her puzzlement increases to alarm as she gets flat murdered and begins the third round. Being forced to re-live her day over and over again, Tree begins to see the truth about how she treats the people around her, what baleful impact she has on the world in general, and how being a nasty trash fire of a mean girly-girl has ripple-effects all across her life, even to her and her fathers relationship. Tree comes to realize that, hey, if you’re an absolute wreck to everyone around you for ever and ever, eventually one of them might take offense to the point where, yes, they will actually flat slaughter your dumbass in retaliation.
The Groundhog Day trope has been reused repeatedly at this point, no pun intended, and Happy Death Day gleefully enjoys Tree flogging herself with déjà vu once she realizes what’s going on. Turning the walk of shame into a totally worked catwalk, naked hunty, took nerve and a glad readjustment of the DGAF in Tree’s head. The other horrible people around Tree who encourage such initial behavior, mostly her fellow sorority sisters, get their own just desserts through Tree’s machinations, and we the audience get to laugh deliciously at them.
It’s amazing how something as small as a birthday cupcake really can affect the rest of your life. And despite taking more than sixteen freaking go-rounds by the end, if Tree can finally figure it out and solve her own murder, then there’s hope for all of us. That cupcake had best be damned worth it though.