© Universal Pictures International Germany GmbH

Happy Deathday (Happy Death Day)
U.S.A. 2017

Opening 16 Nov 2017

Directed by: Christopher Landon
Writing credits: Scott Lobdell
Principal actors: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Charles Aitken, Laura Clifton

Tree (Jessica Rothe) studies at a U.S. university and lives in a sorority house. She dates, goes to parties, attends lectures and discussions. This is all so familiar that it is a relief when a scary, masked man accosts her while walking alone at night. Finally: a bit of action. This horror causes her to wake up, literally, and she finds herself in a strange bed talking to a strange boy, also a student. His name is Carter, and he had brought her to his place, since she had over imbibed at the previous night’s party. He carefully put her to bed, and he and his roommate slept somewhere else. He tells her that it is Monday, the 18th, which also happens to be her birthday. Confused, she rushes back across campus to her own room and her own roommate, Laura, who greets her with a birthday cupcake. This repeats itself in variations for the next several days: each night someone tries to murder her and each morning she awakes in Carter’s bed on her birthday, Monday, the 18th. Day by day her reactions evolve as she begins to anticipate what will happen. She goes through stages of confusion, deathly terror, hysteria, negation, resistance, enlightenment and, finally, bold determination to expose her potential murderer.

I was prepared to write off this film, since I’d already seen Before I Fall, also a film about a teenaged girl who wakes up with never a tomorrow. However, as the film progressed, I was drawn into the plot, as Tree changes into a strong woman with a mind of her own. No longer influenced by sorority sisters or boyfriends, she grows strong, matures and is able to make the right decisions. She realizes that both her flirt with her college teacher/physician, Gregory, as well as her relationship with her father, are unacceptable. The crazy horror action continues, but this is not the main attraction of the plot. Most important is the moral to the story: grow up, make your own decisions. It was filmed at Loyola University in New Orleans. Don’t be surprised if a certain groundhog seems to be ever present. (Becky Tan)

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