MSJ at the Movies

Punxsutawney Kill? “Groundhog Day” for the Horror Genre

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Happy Death Day (2017)

Surprising audiences with good reviews and better sales than the highly anticipated Blade Runner 2049, Happy Death Day has become an unexpected fall treat for moviegoers of all kinds.

Taking the premise of the classic film Groundhog Day, this movie is about a female college student (Tree) who keeps repeating the same day (her birthday) after being murdered at the end of it each time. Her objective is to not only survive to live another day but also to find out who it is that wants her dead and why. After watching the trailers for the movie, people seemed to have the impression that it would be either one of two things: a cheesy fail of a horror movie or, possibly, a highly suspenseful and well-made thriller. Surprisingly, neither of these came close to explaining what it actually turned out to be.

Although advertised to look like a typical murder mystery/horror flick, this film wasn’t like anything else that I’ve seen before. After establishing the plot (showing Tree being murdered a number of times), the movie takes an unexpected turn. Realizing her self-centeredness and continuous disrespect towards others, Tree begins to narrow her focus on bettering herself and improving her broken family life. We learn about Tree’s struggles with dealing with her mother’s death, whose birthday is the same as hers, and her failing relationship with her father, and she begins to wonder if her mother would actually be proud to see her the way she is now.

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Itching for a PG-13 horror movie? Then it might be worth your while to check out Happy Death Day. (Scene from the movie)

While all of this murdering and emotional self-reflection is going on, the movie also explores another path, becoming somewhat of a romantic comedy. After disregarding his existence day after day, Tree starts to fall for the quiet, polite boy whose dorm room she keeps waking up in. He’s the shy and kind kid that everybody loves and nobody wants to be, but she finds herself becoming more and more attracted to him as she herself becomes a better person.

At first glance, this movie does indeed seem like a terrible mistake of a film, but I found a second look to be very insightful. Yes, it is cliche, it is unoriginal, and the script is laughably pathetic at times, but it’s supposed to be. It’s not meant to be critically analyzed and taken apart scene by scene; it’s meant to be enjoyed by accepting the madness and ridiculousness of the suspenseful, comedic, and dramatic rollercoaster that it puts you on.

While it takes so much from so many other existing movies, Happy Death Day really is one of a kind. It’ll keep you on the edge of your seat while making you laugh, scream, and maybe cry a little, and it’ll even give you a handful of lessons to take away.

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What’s with the creepy mask? Check out the movie to find out! (Scene from the movie).