Girls in Horror Movies: Happy Death Day

This week I’ll be talking about the 2017 horror movie Happy Death Day. It is difficult to describe the specific genre of Happy Death Day — it is a combination of a chick flick, a teen comedy and a slasher.

The movie focuses on a self-centred teenager called Theresa (Tree) who wakes up on her birthday in a dorm room with Carter, whom she had met the previous night. Tree stumbles through her day being rude to everyone and being extremely hungover. That night, while going to a party, she cuts through an underpass and is attacked and killed by someone wearing a mask. Tree then immediately wakes up in the dorm room on the morning of her birthday again! She is forced to repeat her birthday time and time again all while she searches for the masked murderer and continually fails. Carter offers advice throughout the movie and becomes Tree’s love interest. After investigating all avenues of suspicion, Tree believes she has cracked the case and celebrates by eating a cupcake from her roommate (Lori), however, she wakes up the following morning and it is her birthday again! After despairing, Tree realises the only thing she did differently was eat the cupcake from Lori and therefore determines that she must be behind her murder. The movie ends with Tree living happily ever after finally successfully escaping Lori.

Tree is a brilliant character. She is extremely determined and brave. She has her faults, as do we all, and she uses this Groundhog Day experience as a way for her to challenge her mistakes. We see her develop throughout the movie as she begins the movie as an egotistical individual, but her experiences help her become stronger both emotionally and physically as she fights the murderer and also accepts the love of Carter and her father.

It is never explicitly revealed why Tree is forced into this limbo of repeating her birthday. Tree expresses herself that, if her late mother could see her now, she knows that she would be disappointed and would struggle to recognise her. Tree realises that her mother’s death three years prior has sent her down a rocky road, and so this repetition of her birthday forces her to see herself for who she is, and is just what she needs to change and become a good person. This, potentially, could be the reason behind this Groundhog Day experience. It acts as a reminder to us all that sometimes we lose ourselves, but that it is never too late to change.

Happy Death Day is pretty unique in the horror genre, but there does seem to be a slight increase in movies that combine both chick flick and slasher horror concepts. An example of this is Netflix’s recently released The Babysitter.

-Lexi Burrows
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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