Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Happy Death Day

7 of 9 viewers "Liked" "Happy Death Day" (2017, USA)
Here's what the creatures had to say:

The Impostor - "Finally a horror film that's not a remake, sequel or supernatural. Happy Death Day brings slasher who-done-it films back from the dead. I had a lot of fun watching this in the theater, it genuinely made me laugh and guess throughout its one hour and 36 minute run time. The acting was top notch, especially from the lead actress Jessica Rothe, who I hated at the beginning. As the film progressed, I found myself caring for her and wanting her to win. While I did wanted more blood and gore from the kills, especially with all the death days she had, but I understand the PG-13 limits. I'm hoping for an unrated cut on the bluray release because this would have been a perfect star rating from me if it were rated R. The reveal is essentially "surprising". I've heard people who would never guess what happens and I caught on within the first 15 mins. I did get thrown off a bit but still didn't take away from the film for me. Overall a great horror comedy I look forward to rewatching again soon I'd highly recommend it." - 4.5 Stars

Wandering Panda - "Think of Mean Girls and Final Destination with a whole side of Groundhog's Day and you get Happy Death Day. A PG-13 "horror" movie but I found myself laughing most of the time. It get very predictable and somewhat drags. But it changes enough that I didn't get bored. The main heroin Tree, played by Jessica Rothe, gives a solid performance but I feel the payoff was a little too weak." - 3 Stars

Huntress - "Although Happy Death Day wasn’t the brutal slasher you'd expect to come out on Friday the 13th, it ended up being a fun romp along the edge of the genre lake that never really got in above the ankles, much like The Shallows but with less gore. Lead actress, Jessica Rothe, was captivating and carried the movie effortlessly, which was a welcome surprise. There were a couple of moments where the movie got a touch too after school special for me, but it was good about ripping hopes of a happy ending away from you moments later. My only qualm was centered around a scene that felt very out of place being in this movie, but feels less awkward the more I think about it. I loved the slasher mask and the attention to detail, but I’d really like to see the R-rated version." - 3.5 Stars

Math Mage - "I'm just happy to see "time repeats till you get it right" scenario with a protagonist who isn't an anime stereotype. Totally inconsistent but appropriately self-aware, this film occasionally ventures into the absurd (that montage is hilarious, but where did she get the night-vision goggles?). Mostly focusing on the Scream style mystery and lamp-shading the inevitable comparisons, HDD doesn't over reach." - 4 Stars

Midnight Bloom - "Happy Death Day is a movie I’d watch on a day I have nothing else to watch. It had some good parts and some boring ones, especially when the same scene would replay over and over again, which gets extremely boring and tired. I loved the death scenes, but wish the movie was rated-R instead of PG-13 so it can be gory. I loved some of the witty comebacks from each of the characters; when she keeps coming back, a lot of the characters had something funny or stupid to say. Overall it’s an okay movie, but I'm not very interested in watching it again anytime soon." - 3 Stars

The Berkeley Blazer - "Well chaps, this one was a bit of a let down, though I wouldn’t go so far to say I DIS-liked it. This film never seemed to quite hit its own notes right, and despite a few fun moments I kept wondering when it was finally going to come together, to justify itself. It never really does. The protagonist has a lot of range and some promising comic capabilities, but her world and her situation seem inconsistent to the point of muddling the film’s rhythm, and never achieves a harmonic balance of tension, terror, and/or comedy. The opening company logo has a brilliant gag that made me expect that I was in for a clever horror send up of the beloved Groundhog Day, but the story never seemed to do anything new, creative, or even irreverent with its source material sans a brief nod before the end.  Too frivolous to hate, I nonetheless would have to say Happy Death Day is only for completionists." - 2.5 Stars

Trash - "Inconsistent, personalityless. It looks like a studio film, and I guess you could pass it off as early 00's, I picked this up for a dollar from a bin and it's fine, fare. But it drags, lacks style, and the jokes are flat. You can make a movie about mean college girls, but in order to keep them likeable, they have to either be shockingly so, or actually funny. Aside from a few, out of left field, offensive remarks from the secret best character of the film, Danielle, it's so... basic. But what really ruins it, for me, is the lack of rules that would give it some structure and make it interesting. The events of Happy Death Day are just happening. And it doesn't deconstruct itself or the genre. And it's never surreal. It's simply happening. It's a horror film that uses a science fiction concept, but steers away from doing anything that might be perceived in the least bit as brainy." - 2 Stars

Dabbles - "The movie worked well. The production, the main actress, the plot line perfectly executed. The only thing I felt was holding it back was the PG-13 rating. For a teen movie it was a good movie. Not as much slasher as it is murder mystery though. But for sure if this was rated R it would have been able to do a lot more." - 4 Stars

Lord Battle - "The early 2000's is a dark period for most horror fans. I however love the post-Scream era of slasher films from which Happy Death Day channels its energy. But where Scream redefined the slasher genre, Happy Death Day just recycled an idea from Groundhog Day which I'm not against, just elaborate on it! There's actually a point in the film where it feels the writer realized that having a survivor girl who can't die prevents any possible tension, so they crowbar in a plot device that ups the stakes yet carries no real consequences. I'd like to believe that the writer understands why all this is happening but it really doesn't seem likely. At this point I would have preferred a Ryan Murphy version." - 3 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

The energy in the lobby post Happy Death Day was a low. Everyone seemed to have had varied fun with the film but mostly spent this time discussing different problems or expectations. The Impostor however floated around announcing his love for the feature, which I am quite sure is a product of his recent disappointment with all of the recent franchise sequels (Jeepers Creepers 3, Cult of Chucky, Victor Crowely, Leatherface).
The conversation turned into a fun game of "what if" where everyone explained different paths the film could have taken or fantasied about how they would've elaborated on the Groundhog Day conundrum. The major issue with Happy Death Day isn't just that it's a slasher with no kill count but the one character in peril has a comedic montage in which she is killed repeatedly. This moment actually went over fairly well but left the audience with a lead who was in danger but is now just inconvenienced. The solution to this problem came in the form of a rule. The rule is that even though you wake up after dying, you awake scarred. It's applied physically but also taken metaphorically as we see our heroin reach the same conclusion as Phil Connors and try to be a better person. Just like in Groundhog Day this emotional epiphany turned out to be a McGuffin as what actually broke Phil Conners voodoo curse was a kiss. Yet there was no voodoo curse in Happy Death Day. So is it a coincidence that someone was trying to kill her on the day she got trapped in a time loop? Is this a weird message about god? What I personally would have liked is a slasher murdering an innocent, who is then given multiple chances to escape but fails and starts to become a terrible person like the slashers are known to kill. And dies for good. The end.

- Lord Battle

The Overlook Theatre materialized at Century Theatres for an preview night screening on 10/13/2017
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.

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