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Movie Review: “Happy Death Day” Delivers Laughs and Scares

“Groundhog Day” meets “Scream” in this surprisingly funny, mystery thriller.

Sorority girl, Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) wakes up hungover on her birthday in a stranger’s (Isreal Broussard) bed. She discovers she stayed the night with nerdy classmate, Carter, and rudely exits his dorm room. Thus begins her rampage of being a narcissistic mean girl to everyone who crosses her path. As we get a peek into a day in the life of Tree, we learn she ignores her father’s call, she’s sleeping with her married professor, and constantly belittles others. I know, hard to believe someone wants to kill her. As the night draws near, Tree heads to a party and is quickly stabbed to death by someone in a disturbing baby mask–oddly enough, that is the school’s mascot.  She then wakes up, and is forced to keep reliving her birthday with each day ending in her being murdered in some gruesome way. As Tree grows weaker with each consecutive loop, she must unmask her murderer and stop them from finishing her off for good.

Writer Scott Lobell does a great job with this clever script, as he adds a lot of humor and makes the film self-aware to the fact that this is a cheesy horror. The self-awareness allows for the movie to go beyond cliché lines and really have fun with a decently, thought out mystery. At this point I’ve described more of a comedy, but director Christopher Landon achieves a handful of scares that will have audiences jumping in their chairs.

The film’s story is solid, but the key ingredient here is the engaging breakout performance by Jessica Rothe. She nails the strong bitchy exterior that actually allows us to not feel guilty when we laugh at her numerous deaths, yet still gains sympathy towards her hopeful victory. Rachel Matthews, who plays an even more awful sorority sister, might provide the most laugh out moments with her over the top bitchy lines.

Whatever “Happy Death Day” lacks in the horror, it makes up for it in its entertainment. Reminiscent of the “Scream” era, it provides the same kind of “whodunit” feel that keeps you guessing till the very end.

I can’t say that this film should be at the top of your must-see list, but if you are looking for a few scares and fun time during this Halloween season, then “Happy Death Day” is the perfect choice.

Rating: 3.75/5

“Happy Death Day” opens in theaters October 13.

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Top 5 Heroines Of Horror

For those of you who prefer to make Halloween a “scary movie night,” deciding on what to watch can be a difficult.  However, I have narrowed down a few choices that are equally entertaining.

Some of the best horror flicks include a fierce heroine that you don’t want to piss off.  Here are the top five bad ass “scream queens.”

5.  Anna Peterson (Maika Monroe) – The Guest

Fights the Beautiful Beast

Though this film is fairly new, The Guest is an inevitable cult classic and it features a quite memorable Anna Peterson, the teenage daughter that seems to be the only one in her family that has suspicions about their recent house guest, David.  Once she discovers the unsettling truth about David, she admirably overlooks his blazing baby-blues and irresistible charm so that she may take matters into her own hands and protect her family.

 

4. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) – Halloween

Selfless Fighter

Laurie Strode is considered by many to be the first true horror heroine.  She is a regular “girl next door” who fights off her psychotic murderous brother, Michael Myers, time and time again.  Although she struggles with her own war against Michael, helping children in danger is her first priority before her own safety.

 

3. Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) – I Know What You Did Last Summer

Haunted by Regrets

Julie and her friends thought keeping the secret of their deadly hit-and-run would prevent damage to any of the teens’ future plans.  Little did they know the man they “thought” they killed was already a wanted for murder.  Julie deals with the regrets of not calling the cops in the first place, which has led her to be stalked by a killer seeking revenge.  She stands out as the heroine who could have prevented this terror.  And of course, we can’t forget this classic line… “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR, HUH? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOOOOORRRR?”

 

2. Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) – A Nightmare On Elm Street

Sleepless in Battle 

Nancy battled it out with Wes Craven’s monster masterpiece, Freddy Krueger, a burnt serial killer who uses a glove armed with razors to kill his victims in their dreams.  Being the only one of her friends that was able to stay awake, Nancy drove Freddy into a realm where he could be defeated.

1. Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) – Scream

Wrestles the Ghostfaces of her Past

In the course of four films, Sidney is terrorized by various killers who claim the Ghostface mask.  Each time these murderers make his or her way into Sidney’s life, it’s a guilty reminder of what started this crime wave to begin with.  Having your mother’s infidelity be the reason why your own boyfriend turned into a psychotic killer is a traumatic experience all in itself.  But, Sidney is forced to relieve this horror through copycat killers and a cheesy, mimicking, Hollywood slasher with infinite sequels.  Suffice it to say, there’s no escaping this never ending nightmare.  And sadly, repeatedly getting betrayed by the people you trust most and continuously making it out alive earns this heroine our top spot!

Having a Rough Day? Here’s 5 Films that are so Entertaining, you’ll forget your Problems

We all have those days.  Work has been stressing you out and you feel miserable.  Your having relationship troubles. Your starting feel insecure about yourself. Overall, your in the dramatic “I hate life” mode.  Anytime I tend to get in this random mood for whatever reason, movies have always been my cure!  When you’re watching a great film, you get to have a wonderful escape.

In this particular mood, I tend to go for films that don’t require heavy concentration. Light-hearted, feel good or even a horror will help.  These are the five films that are so entertaining, you’ll be focusing on the story and the characters’ problems instead of your own for at least two hours or so.

Pitch Perfect

Get Pitch-Slapped!

 

For the Fun: Starring Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow and Rebel Wilson, this film just represents “Glee”fulness.   The musical numbers are hilarious and actually really good.  In case anyone didn’t know, Anna Kendrick got her start on broadway.  After seeing the Oscar nominated actress in some strong, big screen performances, its nice to see her showing off both talents in this surprisingly, fun film.  Pitch Perfect is a happy, colorful movie that everyone will enjoy singing along to.  Throw in some major WTF moments and a cute romance, you will be singing to yourself, “what problems?”

Little Miss Sunshine

What makes you a winner in life?

 

For the Message: This Oscar nominated film is more than just breakout performances and inappropriate humor.  The story about this family of “losers” may start out a bit depressing, but as the movie continues you will find that winning the top prize doesn’t necessarily make you a winner in life.  Having people in your life that love and support you no matter what is often what winners and losers strive for.  It’s the message of this film that will leave you still thinking about it even when it’s finished.

Meet the Parents

You’ll be grateful your name is not Gaylord Focker

 

For the Appreciation: Whatever your problem is, it can’t be any worse than what Gaylord ‘Greg’ Focker (Ben Stiller) goes through in one of the most hilarious films of all time.  As if meeting your girlfriend’s parents wasn’t nerve-racking enough, having one of those parents be ex CIA, Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) is terrifying.  There are so many obstacles Greg goes through, including lost luggage, a lie detector test, broken noses and so much more that you will appreciate the fact that you aren’t in his shoes.  Besides feeling ultimate sympathy for Greg in this film, you may also think twice before checking a bag for your next flight.

Tommy Boy

Chris Farley in his little coat

 

For the Laughs: Chris Farley was a comedy genius and paired with David Spade, together they were a dynamic duo.  This slapstick comedy is a laugh out loud riot.  As these two are on a mission to sell an impossible amount of brake pads, they encounter so many ridiculous events from cow tipping to a deer fight.  Tommy Boy is a true underdog story, you root for Tommy and laugh at his pain.  There may be one disaster after another in this film, but there is also heart and friendship.  Just sit back and enjoy the catastrophe that these two characters go through, you will more than likely end still laughing and quoting lines.

Scream

What’s your favorite scary movie?

 

For the Scare:  A good scary movie can cure a lot of problems.  Really any horror flick will do the trick here, but one of my personal favorites is the cult classic, Scream. The opening sequence to this film is one of the best from any scary movie.   You may think all the comedy spoofs for these films will make you unable to take it seriously, but try watching it by yourself in the dark.  Regardless of the cheesy romantic scenes and sometimes predictable murders, it’s just a fun scary movie.  Scream has a great story, good mystery, lots of stabbing and it’s just scary enough for you to still be able to sleep easy after watching.  However, if you would like to have night terrors, try The Exorcist or the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.