Ralph Potts reviews this horror/thriller where a college student must relive the day of her murder over and over again in a loop that will end only when she discovers her killer’s identity.
The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Universal – 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 96 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard
Directed by: Christopher Landon
Music by: Bear McCreary
Written by: Scott Lobdell
Region Code: A,B,C
Release Date: January 16, 2017
Happy Death Day is a rewinding thriller in which a blissfully self-centered co-ed Tree (Jessica Rothe) is doomed to relive the day of her murder unless she can identify her masked assailant and hopefully stop the madness. If she can’t, she will be stuck in an insane loop, reliving a ghoulish nightmare that has become her death day.
Happy Death Day is a paint by the numbers chiller that contains the requisite foundational elements to make for a watchable mystery/horror story. The narrative ticks the boxes as it begins with a brief and rather bizarre introduction which is explained later. What it is and is designed to be is a murder/mystery where the victim must solve her own murder after reliving every day. To be honest, I thought it started out decently enough, despite the typical teen screen trappings. Unfortunately, the further you get into the story, and more of the layers are peeled back, the more it devolves into a rather silly whodunit with a cheesy helping of corn to go on top.
The elements of fright aren’t particularly effective, but I did find myself interested in finding out just who and why. As I said, the payoff just completely fails to deliver. The story then continues with a rather poorly contrived plot twist, which only added to the eye rolling. By that point, I really didn’t much care anyway. At the end of the day Happy Death Day proved to be just another drop in a sea of cliched teen horror flicks.
The rating is for violence/terror, crude sexual content, language, some drug material and partial nudity.
AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency effects:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialog Reproduction:
- DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element):
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black Level/Shadow Detail:
- Color Reproduction:
Happy Death Day comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.2 Mbps.
This film’s visual style doesn’t lend itself to eye catching color or infinite levels of dimension but this is a creative decision that doesn’t reflect negatively on its presentation. Resolution is excellent with clearly rendered images that exhibit refined levels of detail during close ups and discernible depth of field in wide angle shots. The chromatic range is purposefully limited to muted primary colors and softer secondary hues. That coupled with the drab lighting schemes and dark cinematography makes for a visually pallid but thematically affecting look. Skin tones among the cast vary and range from Rosy to pale while appearing textural and predominantly lifelike. Blacks are respectable and shadow detail is excellent. I didn’t see any signs of video related artifacts in this whistle clean high definition presentation that looks great.
The lossless DTS-HD MA soundtrack offers detail rich clarity while making use of the entire surround platform to support the film’s thematic elements. Dialog is firmly planted in the center channel and clearly renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction and balance within the front soundstage. The detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room’s acoustic environment is notable. Dynamic range is solid which enriches the authority of low frequency effects contained in the mix. There isn’t perpetual use of the surround channels and subwoofer however when applied the effects are complimentary.
- Alternate Ending
- 3 Deleted Scenes
- Worst Birthday Ever – Filmmakers and cast discuss the challenges of executing the time-loop concept at the center of the film, including how to make each day feel different despite the fact it’s being repeated.
- Behind the Mask: The Suspects – At the heart of any great murder mystery is a list of possible suspects. In this featurette, we explore all the possible identities of Tree’s killer.
- The Many Deaths of Tree – Director Christopher Landon, star Lena Rothe, and producer Jason Blum recap the various ways in which Tree is killed, but also explain why we never actually see her die.
- Bonus DVD
- Digital HD Copy
Happy Death Day had potential, but quickly lost its way, resulting in a lackluster genre entry that left me wanting. It comes to Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring solid high definition video, excellent lossless sound and a middling supplemental package. Happy Death Day is a swing, and miss, that might be worth a Blu-ray rental when the pickings are scarce.
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Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
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SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
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