Happy Death Day is a slice of refreshingly unpretentious B-movie filmmaking. I’m not under any illusion that it’s a great film: it’s a horror-comedy that’s rarely scary or funny, a mystery with little interest in mystery and it barely scrapes the surface of its Groundhog–Day-except-it’s-a-slasher premise.
I have a soft spot for the kind of mid-tier ‘80s slasher this is riffing on: you know, the ones where the killer’s identity is hidden until the climax. Where you figure them out by process of elimination. (Specifically, everyone else gets killed.) You’re left with the most obvious and/or the most unlikely candidate and bam!, a bit of undercooked backstory, there’s your killer. I love this sub-genre because they’re so light and breezy; perfect for, say, the third film in a Halloween horror marathon.
Am I setting the bar too low? Perhaps! I could gripe about its retrograde politics or how it neglects to twist its Black-Christmas-esque sorority setting into a commentary on assault and sexism on campus. (If it does do this, it’s entirely accidental.) Sometimes you just want a frothy slasher, and this fits the bill perfectly … even if it’s not quite good enough to watch over and over again.