A new feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the killer birthday blues of “Happy Death Day,” Jackie Chan’s return to adult drama “The Foreigner” and Liam Neeson in the self explanatory “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The White House.”
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the birthday blues of “Happy Death Day,” Jackie Chan’s return to adult drama “The Foreigner” and Liam Neeson in the self explanatory “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The White House.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the birthday blues of “Happy Death Day,” Jackie Chan’s return to adult drama “The Foreigner” and Liam Neeson in the self explanatory “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The White House.”
Happy Death Day’s advertising tagline sums up the entire plot in eight words. “Get Up. Live Your Day. Get Killed. Again.”
Like Groundhog Day with a terrifying twist, it’s the story of Tree Gelbman, a college student stabbed to death by a masked stranger at her own birthday party. Stuck in the twilight zone, she’s forced to relive the day of her murder again and again. The only way to save her life is to search for clues and solve her own murder. “I’ll keep dying until I figure out who my killer is,” she says.
The unlikely named Tree Gelbman is caught in a time loop, a Hollywood device screenwriters use to play with the linear nature of their plotlines. Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day role, a drunk, suicide-prone weatherman who discovers the beauty of life by living the same day endlessly, may be the granddaddy of all Hollywood déjà vu stories, but many other movie characters have been caught in cinematic time circles.
Run Lola Run sees crimson-haired Lola, played by Franka Potente, on a mission to help her boyfriend avoid a fate worse than death. He’s lost a bag with 100,000 deutschemarks and if he doesn’t find it in 20 minutes terrible things will happen. She rockets through Berlin looking for a solution, but each time she fails to find the loot and the 20-minute time loop starts again. Included in the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, the film inspired an episode of The Simpsons and the music video for It’s My Life by Bon Jovi.
Before I Fall is a Young Adult time trip. Zoey Deutch stars as a woman trapped in her worst day ever. Like the time-travelling child of Groundhog Day and Mean Girls (but without Bill Murray or Rachel McAdams), it’s a study of teen angst magnified by a glitch in time. For its young adult audience the wild story raises questions about tolerance, bullying and behaviour.
The horror genre lends itself to time-bending tales as well. Camp Slaughter is a 2005 throwback to the slasher films of the 1980s. In this one, a group of modern teens stumble across Camp Hiawatha, a dangerous place where not-so-happy-campers are trapped in 1981 and forced to re-experience the night a maniacal murderer went on a killing spree. Labelled “Groundhog Day meets Friday the 13th (part 2,3,4,5,6,7,8… every one of them!)” by one critic, it’s gory good fun.
Not into gory? The Yuletide provides a less bloody backdrop for time-looping. The title Christmas Every Day is self-explanatory but 12 Dates of Christmas is better than the name suggests. Us Weekly called this Amy Smart romantic comedy about a woman stuck in an endless Christmas Eve, a sweet “nicely woven journey.”
Finally, the aptly named Repeaters is about a trio of recovering addicts who find themselves in “an impossible time labyrinth” after being electrocuted in a storm. Like most time-bending films, Repeaters is about learning from your mistakes. What sets it apart from some of the others are three unlikeable leads who use their situation to raise hell and break the law. It’s only when Kyle (Dustin Milligan) realizes they could be in big trouble if time suddenly unfreezes for them that familiar time-loop themes of redemption and self-reflection arise.
“Happy Death Day’s” advertising tagline sums up the entire plot in eight words. “Get Up. Live Your Day. Get Killed. Again.”
Like “Groundhog Day” with a terrifying twist, it’s the story of Tree Gelbman (“La La Land‘s” Jessica Rothe). She’s a sharp-tongued Bayfield University mean girl who begins her birthday, Monday October 18, waking up in the dorm room of a young guy named Carter (Israel Broussard). Hungover from the night before she’s late for class and has lunch with her sorority sisters before being stabbed to death by a stranger wearing a creepy Bayfield Babies mascot mask.
Stuck in the twilight zone, she’s forced to relive the day of her murder again and again. “Maybe I’m like a cat with nine lives,” she worries, “and I’m running out.” The only way to save her life is to search for clues and solve her own murder. Trouble is, the suspects could be anyone. “It could be the tiny girl at TJ Max I got fired,” she says, “or the Uber driver I spit on last week.” She is doomed to keep dying until she figures out who her killer is.
Blumhouse, “Happy Death Day’s” production company, are known for their low-budget high concept scares. They scored earlier this year with the brilliant “Get Out” and changed b-movie horror with their “Paranormal Activity” movies. Their latest thriller isn’t likely to be remembered as anything other than a politically incorrect thriller with a strong cast whose engaging performances keep the “today is the first day of the rest of your life… and death” premise interesting.
As snarky sorority sister Danielle newcomer Rachel Matthews is a scene-stealer elevates condescension to an art form and Broussard is goofily charming but it is Rothe’s movie. A combo of great comic timing, charisma and running mascara she does all the movie’s heavy lifting. Whether she’s in full-blown panic mode or on the inevitable journey of self discovery that comes with living your life on a loop—think Jennifer Garner’s “13 Going on 30” redemption—or cracking wise, she’s the star of the show.
“Happy Death Day” morphs from time loop murder mystery to spiritual rebirth story to romance to revenge all in a tight 90 minutes. The rewound days are varied enough to keep things interesting, with each new morning more frantic than the last. The PG13 rating means it’s not a thrill-a-minute but in addition to the fun performances it also has a few vulgar laughs, a few shocks and enough twists to be worth the price of the popcorn.