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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Oct 23, 2017

Happy Death Day Movie Review: The Number 1 Movie In The U.S. Today Is Inspired By Bill Murray's 'Groundhog Day'

‘HAPPY DEATH DAY’ has no big stars but it is currently the number one movie in the U.S., defeating “Blade Runner 2049” with Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, and “The Foreigner” with Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan at the box office. It’s marketed as a horror movie, but there are no jumps scares and fright scenes that will jolt you out of your seats.

Actually, “Happy Death Day” is really more of a campus slasher comedy, with the premise of wake up, get killed, repeat, borrowed from “Groundhog Day”, the 1993 movie where Bill Murray gets caught in a time warp and which has just been re-interpreted last year in “Edge of Tomorrow” with Tom Cruise and earlier this year in “Before I Fall”, which was based on a novel for young adults.

The lead character now is Tree (Jessica Rother), who wakes up on the morning of her birthday with a big hangover in the bed in the dorm room of a nerdy student, Carter (Israel Broussard). She tells him not to tell anyone she slept with him as her reputation with her sorority sisters will be ruined. That evening, on her way to a party, she is chased and stabbed to death by a masked killer.

Then she immediately wakes up the next morning once again in the room of Carter on the morning of her birthday. We see this being repeated many more times, with little variations here and there. Tree thinks she is just having a case of deja vu, but everytime she dies, she gets weaker. Then it dawns on her that the only way to stop her death is to try figuring out who’s trying to murder her.

Things get dumb and dumber along the way and all these shenanigans would be fairly tolerable if only Tree is a character we can sympathize with. The problem is she is such a self centered bitch and a shameless slut that, at one point, we really wish she’d die for good already. She treats other people like a true mean girl, avoids her own dad and is guiltlessly having an affair with her married professor, so why would we care for her at all? The whole experience helps to give her some life lessons that make her a better, more sensitive person along the way, to give her some redemption, but still, we don’t respect her at all.

The fact that this movie sold a lot of tickets means that horror films have a really big market, as evidenced by the huge success of two horror flicks before this, “Annabelle: Creation” and “It”. But the killer here certainly fails in comparison to the cursed doll or the clown Pennywise. Obviously, a lot of young viewers today prefer watching more this kind of hollow entertainment that do not challenge their mental faculties for analysis or intospection.