Happy Death Day is Groundhog Day meets Scream, but not as interesting as either of those films. Jessica Rothe stars as a sorority girl who relives her birthday over and over again, each time ending in her death at the hands of a mysterious baby-masked killer. I’m not a fan of cyclical narratives or gimmicky movies, so to be honest, I was already dreading Happy Death Day. The first half tested my patience. I tried to take a nap, but the theater seats aren’t quite comfortable enough to fall asleep in. Rothe’s character is the typical 2010’s horror protagonist — a nasty person you want to die as soon as possible. So there I was in the double-curse of contemporary studio movies — bored and with no one to care about.
But around the mid-point, the movie gets less predictable and moderately more interesting. Rothe’s character starts to become someone worth caring about and the movie’s rinse-and-repeat operandi gets less tedious. In the end, it’s not a bad movie. It’s just not a great movie, either. Its one distinguishing characteristic — the Groundhog Day gimmick — is the thing I like the least about it. It’s a mere plot device, really, implemented only so we don’t focus on what a Scream rip-off the movie is. So to that end, skip Happy Death Day and just watch one of the Scream movies again. They’re way better.
And that baby mask isn’t scary, ironic, or iconic. It’s just dumb.