McCoy on Movies: Happy Death Day

McCoy on Movies: Happy Death Day

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Déjá vu gets a fun, murderous touch with Happy Death Day. Read on to see if our movie critic says it’s worthy of a watch.


“Oh man, good thing I called for an Uber so I can escape this parking garage safely … Wait a minute, is THAT my Uber driver?!” Tree (Jessica Rothe) hides as her masked killer attempts to murder her again in a scene from HAPPY DEATH DAY. Credit: © 2017 Universal Pictures. All rights reserved.


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Charles Aitken, Rachel Matthews, Phi Vu, Rob Mello and Laura Clifton

WRITER(S): Scott Lobdell 

DIRECTOR(S): Christopher Landon

WEB SITE:’S THE STORY: Theresa a.k.a. Tree (Jessica Rothe) is a college student at a typical university in Louisiana. What isn’t typical, however, is that today is a day that most girls her age can’t wait to celebrate, that being her birthday. And while her roommate Lori (Ruby Modine) might be excited about it, her favorite professor (Charles Aitken) might be a bit taken aback and Carter (Israel Broussard) – the co-ed in whose dorm room she unexpectedly awoke this morning – is simply happy to see her, there’s a bigger problem awaiting Tree later that night: Her death.

As it turns out, after being murdered by a figure dressed in all black save for a creepy baby mask of her school’s mascot, Tree awakens the next morning back in Carter’s room, only to experience déjà vu, reliving her entire day over. That includes getting murdered. Again. And again. And again.

Growing tired of being well, murdered, Tree starts to devise a plan: Figure out who is murdering her before they can do it again and maybe then she can escape her Halloween-meets-Groundhog Day existence. 

But given the list of potential suspects, Tree might have to get used to get stabbed, shot, clubbed and maimed for the foreseeable future … Even in the mounting injury list might mean her time is starting to run out.

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Fans of horror movies where the main characters are enjoyable people; fans of movies that mix humor into the thriller aspect; anyone who can appreciate a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously but does at the right times; those who will appreciate the film’s concept and the competent execution of it

WHO WON’T (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? Fans expecting a more serious/blood-filled experience; those who may figure out who is behind the mask early on; those who may not appreciate the simple nature of the story and its execution

SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? A film that’s more about the character’s story than it is a straight out horror experience, Happy Death Day works because of a lighthearted (if you can have that in a movie where a female character repeatedly gets murdered) tone and a strong, well-rounded performance by its lead and a competent group of co-stars.

Rothe is, for lack of a better word, fun to watch as Tree, a character that is well-developed and goes from being pretty terrible to pretty well, not terrible while Broussard is so naive and likable you can’t help but root for his character. The pair make for a great duo, one a very alpha female while the other plays the role of a good Samaritan with a proverbial platonic best friend twist to a “T.” It’s really a credit to her that she is able to take what could have been a disaster of a character in the wrong hands and make it into a viable, enjoyable character that drives the story. 

Whereas Rothe can be a word that rhymes with “witch” at times before switching her game up, Broussard is perfect as a Scooby-Doo-esque sidekick who just wants to get the girl, or, at the very least, help her from dying (after every time she explains what’s happening to her).

Throw in some nice cheesy-but-not-too-cheesy-to-be-enjoyable sequences with the baby face killer after Rothe’s character, some good ol’ fashioned disturbing music and a few nice, unexpected touches and Happy Death Day is a (well not perfect) mix of humor, horror movie tropes and an interesting story that will entertain you without draining you w/ silliness or gore. Whereas Blumhouse’s other big 2017 hit Get Out was a sharp, satirical that resonated due to its social commentary and exploration of the African-American psyche in modern America, Happy Death Day is more of a simple, gather with your friends/a full theater and take in the experience type of thriller that’s easy to digest but fun at the same time. 


Tabari McCoy
Columnist - Tabari McCoy is Cincy Chic's movie critic. An award-winning stand-up comedian who also works as the public relations director at Cincinnati Museum Center, Tabari McCoy is the creator of McCoy on Movies, a blog about movies for film fans. The blog is written by someone who also likes movies that is smart enough to know his opinion isn't always the right one but is willing to express that opinion in public. McCoy also used to review movies for his college paper and a major metropolitan publication, so that helps add to his "street cred." Contact him at You can also check out more of his work on his blog at and follow him on Twitter at @tabarimccoy.