Happy Death Day creates horror déjà vu

There’s only so many times the Groundhog Day-esque trope of reliving the same day over and over again can be brought to the big screen and still be fun. It seems to be one of those plots that is rehashed every few years in a different genre.

This time, it’s a horror, with Happy Death Day telling the story of an unlikeable college student who is forced to solve her own murder to make it through to the next morning. Every time she’s killed, Monday, October 18 starts again – and each time she’s brought back, she’s killed again in grisly fashion.

Thankfully, dipping this genre in some very PG-13 blood did some good. It’s also nice to see slasher horror again, after so many years where paranormal or torture-porn seemed to be the go-to for filmmakers. There are all the hallmarks of a classic Scream or Halloween, just modernized for a 2017 teen audience: The killer wears a mask. The killer is seemingly undefeatable. There are red herrings galore.

While the plot is certainly nothing new, and a lot is left unanswered or unaddressed, Happy Death Day is a lot of fun. There are laughs, scares and some genuinely good chemistry between the main cast of almost-unknown actors. I found myself ignoring the burning questions I’d usually ask when watching a movie, and just sitting back and enjoying the ride. It’s hardly going to be revered as a horror classic like many of the films it’s inspired by, but Happy Death Day provides a nice diversion from the real world and, hopefully, will reinvigorate the once unstoppable slasher genre.

Happy Death Day is out in NZ Cinemas now.

Reviewed by Stewart Sowman-Lund

3 stars