'Happy Death Day' Will Scare You — Over & Over Again
As if October weren't spooky enough already with Halloween approaching, this year, the calendar offers a bonus freak factor with a Friday the 13th. That's the date when one of this year's new horror movies, Happy Death Day, comes out, so it's bound to be festive. If the idea of going to a movie that potentially terrifies you fills you with trepidation — especially on a famously cursed date — you should know just how scary Happy Death Day is before going in. The answer is that it's a great balance of the bloody horror you want from a scary movie but paired with the fun excitement of true-crime detective work.
One of the nice things about Happy Death Day is that you already know how it ends, because it uses the same formula as Groundhog Day. So, you can sit back and enjoy it without gripping your seat in fear the whole time because you don't know what's going to happen. Yet because the film's director, Christopher B. Landon, has made some of the scariest movies over the past decade like Paranormal Activity and Disturbia, you can be sure that Happy Death Day will freak you out at points, though, too.
The movie is all about the repetition of the same, horrifying event, which is that at the end of college student Tree's birthday, she gets murdered. The next day, Tree wakes up again and must re-live the same thing over again, trying to figure out who the mystery killer wearing a baby mask is before being murdered again. Since each day only lasts so long, the film really cuts to the chase and shows scary killing after scary killing after scary killing — which really is what everyone goes to horror movies for, whether they want to admit it or not.
In a way, the experience of watching Happy Death Day is itself hilarious, because even when you know that a creepy hooded figure will inevitably show up and kill Tree, it will still shock you how and when it happens. Just as you usually want to scream at your laptop while watching a horror movie and say, "Why do you keep going down to the basement alone?," You'll realize that you also are susceptible to falling into villains' traps. It might make you want to rethink your back-patting belief that you would never be the first one to die in a horror movie.
Part of the charm of Happy Death Day is that it concentrates all of the predictable tropes of scary movies, and shows how knowing that something scary will happen doesn't make its occurrence less scary. You know when you watch a horror movie with someone and they annoyingly say, "I knew that was going to happen" as if they're some kind of That's So Raven-esque gifted genius? That person needs to see Happy Death Day, because then they'll understand that knowing that someone is going to get murdered doesn't run the fun of watching scary movies, and it doesn't make them pointless.
If you just want to watch Happy Death Day without deconstructing its meta commentary on the predictiveness of scary movies, that's OK, too. It's a fun movie with a lot of relatable aspects, like feeling too hungover to interact with someone asking you to sign their petition and listening to 50 Cent's "In Da Club" on your birthday. Whether it terrifies you all the way through or makes you crack up with laughter, Happy Death Day will most certainly be the spookified update of Groundhog Day worth seeing this month, especially on Friday the 13th.