This movie, as a dark comedy, was fun. Was it a horror movie, possibly only because it did involve the brutal murder, day after day, of the main character. Otherwise this movie was more of a comedy, and of course drew heavy comparisons to the Bill Murray film GROUNDHOGS DAY. In GROUNDHOGS DAY, Murray continued to relive the day over and over, eventually (an no I am not giving anything away by saying this) finding interesting ways to kill himself to try ending the cycle, and because it can become quite tedious to relive the same day again and again.
Tree's day starts when she wakes up in a young man, Carter's, dorm room, not remembering what happened the night before. She runs out and the day goes like it normally would, until she is murdered and wakes up again in Carter's dorm room. This continues day after day until she wakes up, only to end up in the hospital due to things beyond her understanding. Tree believes she figures out who has been killing her, but ends up knowing, when she is killed yet again, that she was wrong.
The cast of characters reminded me of any other sorority group of ladies. There was the head sister, who was a total bitch and made comments about who people were dating and what people ate. There was a nerdy sister, who was Tree's roommate, who you either feel annoyed or sorry for. There were the sisters who told were foils of Tree and were obviously better people. Of course, the movie follows Tree as she goes through each day and becomes a better person, or learns things that she tries to change.
The murder scenes were great, each one was fun although not all of them were clever. I enjoyed watching the inventive ways in which Tree died, even if it was just having her throat slit, and part of this was because of the way the character woke up the next morning.
Now, as a horror movie, HAPPY DEATH DAY didn't cut it. Honestly, just because a movie is about a homicidal maniac doesn't mean it is a horror movie. Since that was the only "horror" element I felt this would fit more strongly in the suspense genre, as it came across as a suspense while I sat here thinking I knew who the killer was and wondering if I was correct. There were things in the movie that were nods to other films like SIXTEEN CANDLES and of course, GROUNDHOGS DAY. So while there wasn't much 1980's nostalgia represented in the music, there was in other elements of the film like nods to the previously mentioned movies and at least one movie poster from the time (THEY LIVE and I want it).
Do I recommend this movie? Absolutely. Why? Because it is a lot of fun and it doesn't end quite as expected. I enjoyed it.