Why ‘Happy Death Day’ is Unlike Any Horror Film You’ll See This Year

Lawrence Yee
Movies Horror
Movies Horror

2017 has been a pretty good year for horror. It started with February’s psychological thriller Get Out, the creepy doll in Annabelle Creation, followed of course by the blockbuster reimagining of Stephen King’s It. Halloween brings another entry — Happy Death Day — and it’s unlike any other horror film you’ll see this year.

Happy Death Day, directed by Christopher B. Landon of Paranormal Activity fame, offers a film that is part-slasher, part comedy, and part coming-of-age movie with a Groundhog Day twist. How, you ask? The main character, Tree (La La Land’s Jessica Rothe) gets murdered by a masked killer on her birthday (hence the title). But after she “dies,” her birthday — and her death day — resets, and she gets killed again.

FANDOM recently caught up with Landon, Rothe and costars Ruby Modine and Israel Broussard to talk about what makes the film different.

‘An Original Horror Film’

Actors Jessica Rothe and Ruby Modine had to make subtle changes in each scene.

Ironically, another horror film this year — Before I Fall — also had a Groundhog Day-like time loop. But what separates Happy Death Day is a balance of horror and humor. As Rothe puts it, “Things that shouldn’t be scary are, and things that maybe should funny or scary… it kinda turns everything on its head.”

“There’s a lot of horror out there right now that’s pretty heavy minded and serious, and we just wanted to make something that was a lot of fun,” explained Landon.

Also, unlike other slasher films that rake up the body count, Tree accounts for most of the deaths. That makes every other character the potential killer.

Multiple Movie Inspirations

Christopher Landon was inspired by fellow filmmaker John Hughes.

Landon drew from horror greats John Carpenter and Wes Craven, but director John Hughes was also a huge inspiration for this movie. Tree possesses a Molly Ringwald-esque dry sarcasm, and a cupcake scene that evokes Sixteen Candles. Landon loved Mean Girls, and there’s definitely some Plastics in Tree’s sorority.

That Crazy Killer

Cute but deadly.

Part of the humor comes from the fact that the killer wears a baby mask the entire film. It’s quite possibly the least scary mask ever (at least compared to Jason and Leatherface), which makes it scary. It’s that unexpected thinking that makes Happy Death Day one of the more fun and interesting horror entries of the year.

Check out the Happy Death Day trailer below and catch it when it opens in theaters this Friday, October 13.

Lawrence Yee
Lawrence is Editor in Chief of FANDOM. He grew up loving X-Men, Transformers, and Japanese-style role playing games like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. First-person shooters make him incredibly nauseous.
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