SAN ANTONIO – Friday the 13th falls in the month of October this year, and at least one movie studio appears set to take advantage with its latest release.
Universal Pictures' new film "Happy Death Day" offers moviegoers just enough fright to entertain teens this Halloween season. Sadly, despite it's fun premise, the movie just doesn't have much else going for it.
"Happy Death Day" takes much of its concept from another famous movie -- 1993's "Groundhog Day" -- but this time around it involves both a sorority girl and a stalking mystery murderer.
Tree Gelbman (played by Jessica Rothe) is a college student who wakes on her birthday in the bed of a student she doesn't know by the name of Carter. As her morning goes on, Tree has the feeling that she's experienced the day's events before. And when a masked killer suddenly takes her life in a brutal attack, she somehow wakes up again unharmed. Tree then relives the day over and over being killed in different ways until she figures out who murdered her.
The movie's saving grace is that the female lead solves her own mystery and doesn't need saving. It's also cute that the film doesn't take itself too seriously, and the horror and gore provided is actually very timid and limited at best, making it in fact a fine movie to scare younger audiences -- without showing, or frightening too much.
Creepy baby masks and some unique death scenes do provide fright, but the actual threat of Tree dying is quite small -- considering that the protagonist continues to come back each and every time.
Audiences do get what they expect from the film. The movie is written with many pop references including some from "Teen Mom 2", and "RuPaul's Drag Race" so today's younger audience should clearly relate and enjoy. But even as a teen-slasher film, the movie still fails to stack up with such classics as the original "Scream" or even the lesser "I Know What You Did Last Summer".
Bill Murray's "Groundhog Day" appears now to have created its own new genre of sorts, to which this film can now be safely added along with other previous spoofs and variations.
What's interesting is that students attending college were likely born after the original hit theaters, so it should come as no surprise that Tree in the last scene of the movie mentions she has no recollection of the original film.
So if you have a choice, the advice would be to see the original and skip this picture. Audiences however might just think differently, since early projections indicate that the film may just make around $20 million over the weekend.
Interesting note -- "Happy Death Day" was first announced in July 2007 with Megan Fox originally attached to star.
The film opens in 3,000 theaters and has yet to have a rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
It is 1 hour and 36 minutes long and is rated PG-13. It opens nationwide on Oct. 13.