Happy Death Day Is the Unexpectedly Great Horror Movie You Should Go See Tonight

Let’s get something out of the way right now: yes, Happy Death Day is like a mix between Groundhog Day and Scream. You know what, though? It works. Somehow it really, really works.

While walking into the theater to watch the new slasher, which comes from Blumhouse Productions and the minds behind the Paranormal Activity franchise, I definitely wasn’t expecting to be blown away. To be fair, I wasn’t. But Happy Death Day, despite its mind-numbingly bad title (couldn’t they just have left it at Death Day?), is a solidly entertaining entry into the horror-thriller genre. If you’re looking for something scary to watch this October (especially with Friday the 13th weekend and Halloween happening), this movie is worth the $ 15 ticket. Here’s why:

The Premise Is Not as Annoying as It Sounds

Like I mentioned above, Happy Death Day ripped off the «person relives the same day over and over» premise from the 1993 Bill Murray comedy, but it manages to keep things fresh until the very end of the movie. Mean girl Theresa «Tree» Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) wakes up severely hungover on the morning of her birthday in the dorm room of hipster classmate Carter (Israel Broussard) and navigates her way through basically the same major events: stumbling across the quad to her sorority house, running into an ex-flame, having a chat with the hilariously nasty sorority president (Rachel Matthews), getting a cupcake from her roommate (Ruby Modine), going to class, and, finally, heading to a frat party.

The days vary in certain ways (sometimes she talks to the professor she’s hooking up with, other times she spends more time with Carter), but the day always ends the same: Tree ends up murdered in some gruesome way by a hooded figure wearing a mask featuring the college mascot (a cherubic baby-faced monster with one tooth). What keeps the story from getting repetitive is how the movie wisely turns the plot into a mystery, more so than a horror film.

In fact, there’s very, very little gore. Instead, the focus is Tree uncovering the identity of her killer. This results in a hilarious sequence of her strutting naked through the quad, dying her blond hair neon pink, donning military face paint and tactical gear to spy on a potential suspect, and getting taken out in increasingly brutal, splatter-free ways (including taking a jagged piece of a bong to the neck).

Jessica Rothe Nails It

Before starring as Tree, Rothe popped up as one of Emma Stone‘s roommates in La La Land and played pot-dealing Paige in the MTV comedy series Mary + Jane. Although she begins the movie as a one-note sorority girl stereotype, she’s a completely new character by the time the last butcher knife stabs her way. As in every movie that centers on a character reliving one day over again, there’s the requisite «This experience has taught me so much, I’m going to change my ways» monologue, but it doesn’t sound as hokey coming from Rothe. She’s genuinely hilarious, and during the sequence when Tree gets to act out once she realizes none of her wild actions truly matter, Rothe really shines.

There Are Multiple Twists

Remember what I said about the plot not dragging? The introduction of a few twists definitely keeps the audience on the edge of their seat, although one could argue that the biggest twist is a bridge too far. Regardless of how you feel, the unexpected avenues Tree careens down as the movie picks up will have you fully engrossed in the mystery.

The Ending Leaves a Few Things Up For Interpretation

Without giving too much away, there’s a major part of the plot that isn’t explained or wrapped up in a nice little bow by the time the credits roll. For some, this might be annoying (*raises hand*), but for others (*my boyfriend raises hand*), going into detail about how the mythology of what’s happening to Tree might have bogged down the movie (which moves at a pretty breakneck pace). Clearly the move was intentional, since director Christopher B. Landon told Insider that he already has plans to continue Tree’s story.

«The whole idea for my sequel is actually already in this movie. It’s hiding in plain sight,» he said. «The answer to why she’s literally stuck in a time loop — it’s something I have the answer to. It’s in my back pocket, because, knock on wood, you never know how things are going to go, and we’re not counting our chickens, but if I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to make a sequel, the answer to that question is the premise of my sequel.»

Could Happy Deathiversary be next? Perhaps Happy Death-intine’s Day or Happy Fourth of Death-ly? Whichever poor day on the calendar is chosen, I can confidently say I’m looking forward to it.

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If the Ending of Happy Death Day Left You Frustrated, We Have Really Good News

Despite an annoying barrage of trailers that made me loathe the word «bye,» Happy Death Day ended up being an unexpectedly smart, entertaining thriller. The film chooses to leave the reason the heroine, Tree (Jessica Rothe), is forced to repeat her birthday over and over again after being murdered each night shrouded in mystery, which is potentially frustrating for some audience members (spoiler alert: the writer of this article). As it turns out, director Christopher B. Landon specifically chose to leave the mystery open-ended in that way to leave the door open for a sequel.

«The whole idea for my sequel is actually already in this movie. It’s hiding in plain sight,» he revealed to Insider. «The answer to why she’s literally stuck in a time loop — it’s something I have the answer to. It’s in my back pocket because, knock on wood, you never know how things are going to go, and we’re not counting our chickens, but if I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to make a sequel, the answer to that question is the premise of my sequel.»

Since Landon is the mastermind behind the Paranormal Activity series, he’s clearly no stranger to steering a horror franchise to success. Then again, can the premise of Happy Death Day really sustain another film? Landon does make the Groundhog Day-esque concept feel fresh, no matter how many times Tree does the same exact thing, scene after scene, but a sequel with a similar format could get a little tiresome. That being said, if they promise to tell me the secret behind Tree’s birthday from hell, I’ll be first in line to buy a ticket.

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Meet Jessica Rothe, Happy Death Day‘s Newly-Minted Scream Queen

Happy Death Day, Blumhouse Productions’s heady horror flick about a young female college student reliving the day of her murder, hits theaters today, and while the film’s Friday 13th release may exploit obvious horror tropes, its high-concept hook is all new. Mixing Groundhog Day-on-acid existential dread with a litany of more-humorous-than-gory slasher hijinks, the film subverts the classic “final girl” archetype. Instead of a doomed damsel in distress, Tree (played by Jessica Rothe of La La Land) takes advantage of her unfortunate circumstances, using the time warp to uncover the identity of her killer. And like they were for Blumhouse’s recent hits Get Out and Split, audiences are here for this new brand of horror; early box office projections put Happy Death Day’s opening weekend at $ 22 million.

Below, we catch up with Rothe about becoming a scream queen, doing her own stunts, and the paranormal activity on set.

How did you get involved in the project?

I auditioned for the project a little over a year ago. I was in Atlanta shooting another film and I received the script. And it was funny because I was being relatively selective about the things I was [auditioning] for because I was on another job but I absolutely fell in love with it right away.

What drew you to the role?

Tree’s journey is something we don’t see very often especially for women in horror films. She gets turned from this snarky narcissistic stereotypical college student into this total badass who takes charge of her own life. And I loved the combination of humor and horror and thought there was just a lot of heart in the script. So I was set up with a Skype appointment with the director Chris Landon (Paranormal Activity) and the moment I Skyped with him I was like, oh my god, now I really have to do this job because he is just so funny and brilliant and wickedly, wickedly smart.

New Orleans during Halloween sounds pretty spooky… Were there a lot of ghost stories on set?

For sure. I love New Orleans but I definitely believe it’s haunted. And I’m not someone who… Well, I believe in ghosts, but kind of with a grain of salt. I don’t go around looking for haunted houses to climb around in. But yeah we shot for four days in a hospital that had been abandoned after Katrina, and that place is definitely haunted. 150%. Weird stuff kept on happening. Things kept breaking, people kept on almost getting hurt. I think one time our craft foods truck caught on fire and no one knows why. Just weird stuff was happening all the time. Everything was working, everything was running. There were just no people. Super spooky. So when we finished up we were all pretty relieved.

What is the balance between the humor and horror in the film?

It’s kind of a film unlike any other. We’ve been describing it as Groundhog Day meets Grease meets a John Hughes film. A little bit of 16 Candles thrown in. There’s not really a supernatural element other than the fact that Tree is stuck in this time loop and we don’t know why, other than that she eventually discovers that in order to escape the time loop, she has to figure out who’s murdering her at the end of each day and figure out who’s underneath that terrifying baby mask. In the process she also get the opportunity to really look at herself kind of confront her inner demons as well.

Can you talk more about tropes for women in horror and how this film shifts them?

One of the brilliant things about the construct of the loop is that Tree gets to learn from her mistakes. You see people in horror films… They run up the stairs when you know that they shouldn’t. They follow the creepy sound when it’s obvious that they should run the other way. The girls run around screaming without really fighting back. And Tree initially does those things not because she’s stupid or she’s weak but because she’s being attacked by an unknown assailant and it’s so unexpected that she doesn’t have time to prepare

But as she’s forced to relive this day over and over she really adjusts and grows and evolves into this awesome kickass heroine. And it also means that I get killed a different way every single time, which was really fun to do. I die every way from getting stabbed in the neck with a broken bong to being drowned in a pool to getting hit by a bus.

Was there a lot of fake blood being thrown around? What were some of the technical aspects of shooting the deaths?

It’s actually not a gory film, which I really appreciate because I think it shows you can make a horror film and it can be thrilling and terrifying without gratuitous violence. There were a lot of stunts. A lot of making a horror film, I learned, is extremely logistical. And you have to be very precise to make sure people are safe and don’t get hurt. I had an incredible stunt double. She helped me with a lot of stuff – either the stuff that was too dangerous for me to do, or walking me through how to do my own stunts, which I appreciated. Our stunt team was amazing.

Have you met any iconic horror heroines since the film, or are there any you would like to meet?  

Not yet, but I hope that happens. I feel incredibly honored to even be put in the same category as those women… everyone from Janet Lee, to her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis, to even Drew Barrymore at the start of Scream. Chris and I talked a lot about what makes an amazing scream queen and what qualities from those women can we utilize to kind of make our film the best it can be. And so took a lot of inspiration from all of those women.

Do you know what you’re being for Halloween this year?  

I do. I met my best friend on Halloween like three years ago. We met at a Halloween party and so Halloween has become our friend-versary tradition and this year we’re going as Spanky and Alfalfa from Little Rascals but in the ballerina costumes. So we’re going to be cross-dressing as boys cross-dressing as girls. It’s very intricate.

Main image: Courtesy of NBCUniversal

The post Meet Jessica Rothe, <em>Happy Death Day</em>‘s Newly-Minted Scream Queen appeared first on DuJour.


‘Happy Death Day’ Is Stupid, But Not in the Fun Way

After all the shit that’s gone down this week, I know I’m not alone in needing a fun, stupid movie to see this weekend. Something high-energy and schlocky that—and this is key—has nothing to do with Harvey Weinstein and his grabby hands and his smelly ween.

Happy Death Day checks some of those boxes. Harvey Weinstein hasn’t involved in it in any way. And it sure is stupid. And it’s kind of fun. Ish. In parts. It’s not terrible. But it’s also not all that good.

In Groundhog Day: But With Murder This Time, shallow sorority girl Tree (Jessica Rothe)—yes, her name’s Tree—finds herself in the unenviable position of getting murdered on her birthday by some weirdo in a baby mask. It’s Live Die Repeat, take two—except I won’t call it Live Die Repeat, Doug Liman. I don’t care what you say, the movie’s name is Edge of Tomorrow—as each death resets her back to the beginning of her birthday. The whole «repeatedly getting murdered by a knife-wielding maniac» thing isn’t exactly a bucket of giggles, but the series of mulligans gives Tree time to figure out who’s trying to do her in. There are a lot of options: The sexy British professor she’s sleeping with, his wife, a guy she ghosted, the sorority queen bee rival, the roommate she’s constantly dismissive of… Tree’s kind of an asshole.

Now, in a normal world, if you know someone’s going to kill you by the end of the day—not a monster, not a demon, just a normal person—you Rambo your ass up, plant yourself in a room across from the door, and plug the motherfucker to kingdom come when he shows up to get his stab on. Then you take the mask off and figure out who BabyMan is. Boom. Movie’s over in 20 minutes. Instead, Tree—with the help of Carter, her geekdorable Man Friday whom she’s able to confide in her about her experience—makes the bewilderingly stupid decision of stalking everyone who might be the killer and then checking them off the list if she’s murdered while trailing them.

I mean.

C’mon now.

I don’t expect time travel or time travel-adjacent movies to be entirely free of logical inconsistencies, and certainly people in horror movies have a certain latitude when it comes to behaving like idiots, or else many horror movies wouldn’t even exist. But that is utter dipshittery of the highest order. Especially once it’s established that Tree keeps her death wounds from life to life—not in their OG blood ‘n’ guts forms, but enough that it’s clear that if she dies too many times, that’s it, game over.

Knock the motherfucking BabyMan out with a hammer.

What are you doing??????

You know he’s coming! Final Girl up and kill his ass!

That said, I’ve watched my share of bad horror movies—The Bye Bye Man, anyone?—and Happy Death Day is better than a lot of them just by virtue of being reasonably zippy and fun. Rachel Matthews in particular steals every scene she’s in as Danielle, the Regina George of Tree’s sorority, who spouts lines like «What is breakfast, Becky?!» and «the heifers at Delta Gamma—they’re into cosplay«—with spiteful glee. But the zingers aren’t zing-y enough or frequent enough to rescue Happy Death Day from mediocrity. It’s not just that the lead character, who treats people like shit and makes a dumb decision every 30 seconds, is nearly impossible to root for. There’s a second act red herring that’s utterly interminable—c’mon, we know the killer isn’t going to be [REDACTED FOR SPOILERS*], so can we just get on it with it? And there’s a bullshit «Tree learns to be a better person!» subplot that’s rushed and unbelievable. Granted, the «redemption arc» (such as it is) isn’t as bad as the one in fellow Groundhog Day takeoff Before I Fall, in which the lead was a heinous, bullying nightmare who never actually did anything to atone for her behavior. But a ten-minute detour into moralistic «wait… I’ve just realized I shouldn’t be an asshole!» territory is clunky and eyeroll-inducing on its own.

Want to see something this weekend that will make you feel good about the world? Watch Professor Marston and the Wonder Women and give Happy Death Day a pass.


Freddie Mercury’s Sudden Death Still Shocks Fans, Even 25 Years Later

Image Source: Getty / Steve Jennings

It was recently announced that Rami Malek will be taking on the role of the legendary Queen frontman Freddie Mercury (née Farrokh Bulsara) in the new biopic titled Bohemian Rhapsody. Freddie was only 45 when he passed away on Nov. 24, 1991, and the upcoming film has revived interest in the details surrounding his death.

Freddie released a statement disclosing that he suffered from AIDS less than 24 hours before he died in his London home from bronchopneumonia resulting from the disease. «I wish to confirm that I have been tested HIV-positive and have AIDS. I felt it correct to keep this information private to date to protect the privacy of those around me,» he said. «However, the time has come now for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth and I hope that everyone will join with my doctors and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease.»

The news came as a shock to Freddie’s fans, given that he was extremely private when it came to his personal life, but his longtime friend and bandmate Roger Taylor later opened up about why Freddie initially chose to keep his battle with AIDS a secret. «He didn’t want to be looked at as an object of pity and curiosity,» Roger told Entertainment Weekly. «And he didn’t want circling vultures over his head.»

While the British singer never married, Freddie carried on a relationship with a woman named Mary Austin in the early ’70s and left her his mansion, a large part of his wealth, and recording royalties after his death. Freddie was also sexually involved with his personal chef, Joe Fanelli, who was diagnosed with AIDS in the Summer of 1990 prior to dating Jim Hutton, who discovered he was HIV-positive a few weeks after Joe was diagnosed. It’s still unclear how Freddie contracted the disease.

Annie Lennox and David Bowie at the Freddie Mercury tribute. Image Source: Getty / Kevin Mazur

The Freddie Mercury Tribute: Concert For AIDS Awareness was later put on at England’s Wembley Stadium in April 1992 in honor of Freddie’s memory. It featured performances by Def Leppard, David Bowie, Annie Lennox, Elton John, and Metallica and was broadcast in 76 countries. All of the proceeds were donated to an AIDS organization.

Even though it’s been nearly 26 years since Freddie died, his legacy is alive and strong. Not only did Freddie help influence music genres from heavy metal to pop, but he also continues to inspire musicians like Adam Lambert, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga today. Adam, who has been fronting Queen since 2012, previously told Rolling Stone that he initially fell in love with the band because he could identify with Freddie. «Look at what Freddie pulled off! He had the balls to do so much outlandish sh*t on stage and say exactly whatever he wanted to say and wear whatever he wanted to wear.» Katy was also heavily inspired by the singer. «Freddie Mercury was — and remains — my biggest influence,» she previously told the Daily Star. «The combination of his sarcastic approach to writing lyrics and his ‘I don’t give a f*ck’ attitude really inspired my music.» Bohemian Rhapsody is scheduled to start production this Fall and is expected to hit theaters on Dec. 25, 2018.

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Quite Understandably, Lionel Richie Is «Scared to Death» of Daughter Sofia Dating Scott Disick

Sofia Richie and Scott Disick went public with their romance last month, and the relationship is stressing out the 19-year-old model’s dear old dad, music superstar Lionel Richie. «Have I been in shock?! I’m the dad, come on,» the singer told Us Weekly on Wednesday. When asked if he was happy for Sofia and the 34-year-old Keeping Up With the Kardashians star, he quipped, «I’m scared to death, are you kidding me?»

Sofia and Scott made their romance social media official in late September, when the dad of three shared lovey-dovey photos of the two in Miami. They were then photographed in Mexico, showing PDA while riding jet skis together. Hang in there, Lionel!

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Check Out This Death Trap Russia Is Building For The World Cup

The soccer world is abuzz this week after photos emerged of Ekaterinburg Arena in Russia where 2018 World Cup matches will take place next summer. What’s the big deal with the arena/stadium? Oh, I don’t know, maybe that mile high scaffolding that’s supposed to hold rabid fans during World Cup matches.

Originally planned as a 27,000 seat stadium, FIFA requires more seats so they can add more money to their corrupt pockets so now you have the ends of the stadium cut open and giving the corrupt Russians the chance to add temporary seats to bring the total capacity to 45,000.

Plan on heading to Yekaterinburg for group stage matches? Fill out a will before you leave the States.

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Hugh Hefner’s Cause of Death Has Been Revealed

Hugh Hefner passed away on Sept. 27 at the age of 91, and on Tuesday his official cause of death was revealed. According to the Playboy founder’s death certificate, which was obtained by The Blast, he succumbed to cardiac arrest and respiratory failure. The site added that E. coli and septicemia (a severe blood infection) were also contributing factors to his death. Hugh Hefner began the iconic men’s magazine in 1953. He was laid to rest this week next to Playboy‘s very first cover girl, Marilyn Monroe, and is survived by his wife, Crystal Harris, and his children, Christie, Cooper, David, and Marston.

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«Flatliners» Review: A Brain Dead Movie About Brain Death. How Meta!

Flatliners is a brain-dead remake of a 27-year-old brain dead film about 27-year-olds brain dead enough to take up brain death as a hobby.

The header picture above is far more entertaining than any part of this interminable movie, and contains more effort by the actors than every scene in the entire movie combined. Just print it out, tape it to a popsicle stick and make it dance while singing «let’s die! Oh noes we played god!» for ninety straight minutes and then send me the ten bucks I saved you on the ticket price.

The story is exactly the same as the 1990 movie. I think. I saw it a long time ago and it was stupid and I don’t really remember. This one is also stupid, and I look forward to forgetting about it too.

The rest of this review is filled with spoilers. Because it’s all spoiled in the trailer anyway. And in the first version of the movie with Pretty Woman and Jack Bauer. And by Pet Semetary. And The Lazarus Effect. And every other movie you’ve ever seen where humans play god and bring people back from the dead.

So some med students decide that they’re going to stop their hearts and then restart them in order to mimic near death experiences. At no point is any plausible reason given for why a bunch of doctors think this is an entertaining or even vaguely intelligent thing to do. I know that I sit around and think, self, you know what would be cool? A heroin overdose without the high. But then I’m not that kind of doctor. It can’t be that they’re trying to save money on expensive drugs, because they all live in the sort of luxury places that would make the characters on Friends jealous. One dude lives on a yacht! But somehow his life is so boring he takes up temporary suicide to pass the time. Rich people problems, amirite?

When «dead» they go out of body and see vaguely creepy things. Imagine the Upside Down. Except boring in every way. Then when they get all shock paddled back to life, they have a euphoria rush and super skills. And by super skills I mean completely mundane things like remembering how to play the piano. Whoopity fucking doo, move over Fantastic Four. Five fucking medical degrees to invent autoerotic asphyxiation without all the fun parts.

Then as anyone who has ever seen a movie could predict, the other shoe drops. Which means that they start seeing hallucinations of people they’ve wronged. A dozen cheap jump scares later, our crack team of medical experts comes to the highly scientific conclusion that repeated oxygen deprivation to the brain has caused neural damage inducing hallucinations.


Sigh. No, of course not. They think they’ve seen the after life and now they are being haunted and they need to earn the forgiveness of the ghosts or whatever. Or forgive themselves. I don’t know, Bob Marley’s ghost wasn’t there to explain the plot.

The cast they managed to assemble is inexplicable. Ellen Page has nothing better to do than this shit? Yeah, I get that they can’t all be classic cinema like Juno homeskillet, but the whole thing’s on a $ 19 million budget so I don’t think she got a cut big enough to qualify under the «one for you, one for them» acting compromise of aught-seven. And Diego Luna? This is the script you choose for the Rogue One goodwill tour? Could be worse, I suppose. His next film is Untitled Woody Allen Project. Nina Dobrev I can understand. She’s realizing life outside the Vampire Diaries and the comforting nest of the CW is cold and dark, and is now deep in 2005 Sarah Michelle Gellar territory.

And Kiefer Sutherland shows up because apparently he has already blown through a decade of 24 money. It’s utterly unclear whether he’s playing a different character than the original and his presence is an homage, or whether he’s playing the same character but with memory loss. He looks like this:


His character is basically if House fucked Jack Bauer and the baby had progeria.


I would watch the hell out of that show. Unless it was on CBS All Access. It’s not like I’d pay for it. Just like you shouldn’t pay to see Flatliners.

Dr. Steven Lloyd Wilson is a hopeless romantic and the last scion of Norse warriors and the forbidden elder gods. His novel, ramblings, and assorted fictions coalesce at www.burningviolin.com. You can email him here.


4 Things That Will Happen Before Jack’s Death on This Is Us

Warning: major spoilers for the This Is Us season two premiere ahead.

Well, it finally happened. After what seemed like a lifetime of guessing, This Is Us revealed how Jack dies. In a flash forward at the end of the episode, Rebecca pulls up to the Pearson family home, which has been completely burned by a fire. While the scene still leaves a few things up in the air, it’s pretty obvious that Rebecca and Jack are still married when he dies (she’s still wearing her wedding band). So, now that we finally know how it happens, our next question is when? We already knew that the Big Three are still teenagers when Jack dies, but there are a few other clues in the episode about the exact timing. Here are a few things that will need to happen before Jack’s emotional death.

1. The Pearson Family Might Get a Family Dog

In the scene at Miguel’s house, teenage Kate is seen kissing a small dog. While this could easily just be Miguel’s household pet, there weren’t any signs of a dog in the house when Jack stays over earlier in the episode.

2. Teenage Randall Gets a Girlfriend

Another eye-raising moment from the scene at Miguel’s house is that teenage Randall seems to have a love interest. As he cries on the couch, a cute redheaded girl consoles him by kissing and holding his hand.

3. Teenage Kevin Breaks His Leg

While teenage Kate and Randall are staying at Miguel’s house, teenage Kevin is seen making out with Sophie by his car. Not only is he wearing a varsity jacket, but he has a cast on his leg. Seeing that there is a big football drawn on it, it’s pretty likely that he got hurt while playing the sport.

4. Rebecca Wears a Steelers Jersey

This might be the trickiest clue of all. Due to teenage Kevin’s cast, it’s safe to assume that Jack’s death happens sometime during football season. Is Rebecca simply wearing the jersey because she doesn’t have any clean laundry, or is she going to watch the game when the horrible accident happens? She definitely seems overwhelmed with emotion when she sees the house. Is that her first time witnessing the result of the fire? Guess we’ll just have to patiently wait as the rest of the season unfolds.

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