Happy Death Day

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October — in my humble opinion — is the most wonderful time of the year. The days become cooler, pumpkin spice gets its 15 minutes of fame, those Pure Michigan commercials dominate the air waves, and the cinema gets a lot spookier.

During the 10th month on our annual ride around the sun, it seems like our buffer between the movies that didn’t make the Summer Blockbuster cut and the For Your Consideration Oscar Bait movies.

And it. is. glorious.

It’s horror movie season! For four years, Blumhouse gifted me a new Paranormal Activity right around my birthday — October 19th — which just happens to be Michael Myers’ birthday, too. Michael Myers, or, The Shape, terrorized babysitters in the horror staple, Halloween which also came out in October.

Yes, it’s a magical and horrifying time of year.

Anyway, Happy Death Day markets itself as a scary movie, and it is, but it takes a step outside of the typical October theater fare, which is refreshing.

When Tree (Jessica Rothe) wakes up on the morning of her birthday in a mystery man’s dorm after a night of what she can only assume was fun, she’s gotta piece the events of the evening together on her walk of shame back to her sorority house.

I was never in a sorority, but movies sure like to portray “sisters” as vile creatures with a propensity for making the rest of the campus feel plebeian at best. At a house meeting during lunchtime, the head sister, Danielle (Rachel Matthews) — not sure what her title is, queen jerk, maybe? — admonishes a fellow sister for eating. At lunch.

That night, a party is to be held for Tree’s birthday. On her way there, she’s followed by a figure in a mask of the school’s mascot — a baby with a single tooth — and regrettably won’t make it to her own soiree after the big baby stabs her to death.

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Fortunately, she’s playing some sort of real life video game and gets to restart the next day. Confused to wake up in the same dorm with the same guy whose same friend bursts in asking if his friend got that, “fine vagine,” Tree finds her way back to the sorority house and is met with the exact same interactions as the day before.

The day plays out the way the previous one had, verbatim. A tiff with Danielle, a homemade cupcake from her roommate Lori (Ruby Modine) that she carelessly throws away, the lunchtime dispute, only this time she makes it to her party… before she gets killed again.

Waking to the same birthday morning phone call from her dad and the same guy whose name she finally learns — Carter (Israel Broussard) — Tree feels as though she’s losing her mind. After revealing everything to Carter, he suggests that she has to find out who is killing her to stop the cycle.

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Running out of lives, Tree will need to do some serious detective work to find out who has it out for her. In the process, she might even learn a little something about herself.

I wish people would stop comparing this movie to Groundhog Day. I thought Happy Death Day had a fresh perspective. It’s reminiscent of your late 90s slasher flicks, interjects a healthy dose of comedy, and even does a little gentle heart-string tugging.

Jessica Rothe — who danced alongside Emma Stone in La La Land — is a pleasure to watch. She’s engaging and dynamic. I’m excited to see what’s next for her.

Anyhoo, get out to see this one. Fun and spooky, Happy Death Day is a the perfect October date night movie. Or, if you’re like me, a good one to go to alone, sneak wine into the theater, and get in touch with your inner “I am woman, hear me roar.”

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