Category: Reviews

Nerve – review

Nerve is a high school drama and thriller directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, as a frustrated senior student in high school finds herself thrust into the world of the online game ‘Nerve’, which sees people performing dares for money as a community of people online watches. The film stars Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Juliette Lewis, Emily Meade and Miles Heizer.

This is not your typical high school drama, as we follow Vee (Emma Roberts), a somewhat shy, anxious high school senior about to embark to college in a few months time, she has a good set of friends and a stable upbringing but she feels like she could be doing more with herself, which comes to the forefront as it turns out that her friend see her as being a bit safe, lacking an adventurous spirit. And thus the story in essence begins and say hello to ‘Nerve’, a near future online game that’s sweeping her high school and teenagers all around the city, seeing people dare each other for money, increasing in value as the dares get more outrageous and you know, illegal.

I really like the premise for the film as it strays away from the typical high school drama, involving technology quite heavily in the story, it’s almost like if the Watchdogs game got a live action spin off film, set in high school. Though that being said, you do still get the tropes of high school drama with Vee and her best friend Sydney having underlying issues with each other and with things coming to the surface over boys, the good thing is that the plot doesn’t necessarily drown in this melodrama however and the pacing keeps things moving at an interesting, engaging pace.

The fun of the ‘Nerve’ game is its unpredictability, which takes the plot in a visceral, interesting direction as you don’t know what dare Vee will take on next or if she’ll do any dares whatsoever, with the wild card Ian (Dave Franco) bringing an interesting dynamic the plot and serving as a love interest for Vee simultaneously, Franco shines in the role and comes across very naturally in a sort of reckless, cocky way with a touch of charm to himself. Meanwhile Emma Roberts is again great as the main character in a high school drama, effortlessly switching from mean queen in some TV shows she’s starred in, to out of her depth shy girl in Nerve. With the acting on the whole being quite solid.

Nerve is a pleasant surprise, an engaging story that feels of the time with online communities and what anonymity online can make people do, making an interesting social commentary while also charting a sort of coming of age story for Vee who does change along her journey. The plot serving like a cautionary tale to young peoples obsession with being online and fringe activities they may participate it in, just to be a part of the conversation among peers.


. Well paced, engaging plot

. Good performances

. Interesting mix of technology with story

The Killing of a Sacred Deer – review

Yorgos Lanthimos directs this psychological horror/mystery film, centred around a seemingly normal family, headed by a celebrated surgeon whose life is flipped upside down after he befriends a mysterious teenage boy, the film stars Colin Farrel, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Alicia Silverstone and Sunny Siljic.

Boy do I have thing to say about this film… but let’s start off with the seemingly inherent hypocrisy a reviewer can face when it comes to mysterious, enigmatic films like this that present an intriguing premise but offer little in the way of explanation and I’m guilty of this, either quite liking a film with such a set up or completely being turned off, I quite liked It Comes At Night for example but I left The Killing of a Sacred Deer a bit disappointed.The frustrating thing is that slow burn mystery horror films like this are almost all set up the same narratively but can elicit such vastly different responses and in itself, that’s a great thing about films. The films’ tone and set up quite reminds me of Dogtooth actually, also by Lanthimos, one of the worst films I’ve ever seen.

But honestly the film’s just not great, despite a pretty good cast as well, Colin Farrel as Steven, figurehead of the Murphy family and a caring family man, alongside Anna (Nicole Kidman) and their two kids Kim and Bob, they’re a pretty normal family but then again they’re kind of not aside from the parents, the kids are sort of twistedfgrom the offset, even without the even stranger Martin (Barry Keoghan) coming into the fray. And this is part of where the film loses me, it’s almost like the writing is trying to make the film strange and unnerving right from the start with very odd dialogue and line delivery that sticks out so much it had me practically saying “no one talks like this” and with such dialogue, Lanthimos seems to like flattening certain characters in his films to almost one dimensional levels, making it hard to connect with or empathize with them. This is in part played for black comedy I’m sure, with the Murphy kids especially talking so bluntly to each other and their parents without a hint of humor to the absurdity of what they’re saying, the kids are also strangely emotionless throughout the film and this distance from the characters makes it hard to empathise with them.

The dialogue is so bad that it both takes you out of the film in fact and reduces any potential emotional impact and I struggled to really come to terms with anything that was happening in a logical sense (much like the parents in the story I suppose) but with no real backstory for Martin and no explanation of anything whatsoever, things happen and the story goes it course…. and that’s basically it. There are some well framed shots and long takes that linger on a bit too long to help evoke a feeling of nervousness and an unsettling feeling does pervade the film so it does succeed in that regard, with Barry Keoghan giving a truly twisted and bizarre but nonetheless memorable performance. While a scene in particular was so disturbing that I could barely watch it – this coming from a guy that is un-phased by the vast majority of horror films.

Anyway the film did nothing for me despite instilling an unsettled feeling and I feel like the story is a big missed opportunity, structurally it could have been put together better, especially with the writing. For more detail on it, the premise is sort of based on an Ancient Greek tragedy – ‘Iphigenia in Auglis’ and reading up on it does bring the basic layout of the story to a more coherent place but this modern adaptation of it left me well, un-phased. Because no film deserves a pass on good writing and plot, for the sake of the viewing experience, no matter how big or small it is.


. Poor pacing

. Bad writing, trying to evoke an unnatural feeling through dialogue that feels too forced

. Plot feels a bit hollow and void of any impact, in part due to the writing and detached tone of the film

The Big Sick – review

The Big Sick, directed by Michael Showalter is a romcom / drama rolled into one, sort of following the real life of Kumail Nanjiani, essentially playing himself as a Pakistani stand up comedian living the USA who falls for an American woman, forcing him to keep secrets and create a rift with his family that he has to confront, alongside an illness his girlfriend contracts. The film stars Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff and Adeel Akhtar.

This is a pretty different type of romcom in my view, being more or less a story based on a real person in Kumail Nanjiani, who basically plays himself in the role, we get a real taste of his sense of humour and personality which feels authentically like him, if you’ve seen him in past TV shows or interviews and this helps to make more of an emotional connection with Kumail in my opinion. This could have worked just as well with Kumail and the story being fictional but with the story being real (Kumail is now married to writer Emily Gordon who Emily in the story is based on) it’s all the more impactful.

The emotional aspect to the story was much more pronounced than I thought it would be actually, played quite subtly but it hits heavy, I was expecting a lot more laugh out loud moments than there were but the humour is done well nonetheless, not forcing in jokes every 5 seconds but using smart, sarcastic comedy at key moments. This is helped by the script being written by Kumail and Emily themselves, who lived the experience so this helps to add authenticity to it, the scenes involving Kumails family in particular are some of the funniest and also the most relatable, despite cultural and religious differences between his family and yours, you can probably relate to wanting to please your parents, despite their plans for you maybe being different to your own life plans.

And in that the story really resonated with me, because of potential awkwardness when dealing with family in your adulthood, especially if you’re living in a western country that you weren’t born in or even if you were, with parents that are still very traditional and conservative – a source of comedy for sure but another thing that I’m sure a lot of young adults in the US face everyday. The performances in the film are also really good, Kumail is great in playing well, himself and he brings a reserved yet surprisingly emotional touch to the story, playing off really well with Zoe Kazan who plays Emily and is pretty fantastic at it, nailing the emotional rollercoaster that is her relationship with Kumail with all the twists and turns that accompany it.

I like that the film also doesn’t exactly go the way you think it will either, keeping you guessing as to what will happen and it’s a more accurate representation of real life and not a fictional story, again helping with relatability and engagement in my view. The Big Sick is a funny, touching film with more emotional impact than you may expect going into it.


. Great performances from main leads, especially Zoe Kazan

. Well done comedy spread throughout, without taking away from dramatic moments

. Engaging plot

Wind River – review

Taylor Sheridan directs Wind River, a mystery crime thriller set in the cold, frozen lands of Wyoming, we follow an FBI agent and a hunter as they investigate a suspected homicide of a native American woman, the film stars Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Graham Greene and Julia Jones.

It’s interesting that we’ve randomly had two murder mystery thrillers taking place in sub-zero climates this year, Wind River and The Snowman, much to very contrasting receptions of course but there’s something almost ethereal, wild and perfect for setting crime dramas in snowy, frozen settings, putting an emphasis on natures unforgiving ruthlessness and contrasting it with humanities tendency to be just as cruel.

We’re in the frozen north-west of America this time as we follow Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) and his life in Wyoming as hunter with his son, we come to learn more about him as the story goes on and this ties into events in an interesting way, Cory is stoic, a bit of a loner and just wants to get the job done and Renner makes pretty much the perfect casting choice for the role. And it’s easily one of his best performances, understated but memorable, balancing off a cast of mostly unknowns, Elizabeth Olsen is the other main lead, playing a rookie FBI agent a bit out of her element, with shades of Clarice in Silence Of The Lambs.

Olsen brings her own touch to the performance however and is believably driven yet naive. The central plot of Wind River is set around the mysterious death of native teenage girl and of course, why it happened. But it’s no spoiler to say that it takes a while for things to really get going in any meaningful way and I get that this is a bit of a slower paced drama but it is really slow, so much so that it may turn viewers completely off but keep others engaged and I can understand the divisiveness of the film (although critics generally quite like it). The dramatic elements have some decent weight to them and there are some quite moving emotional scenes but they don’t really linger on, maybe pointing to the harsh nature of the work the cops and sheriffs in the area do.

The story just didn’t really impact me in the way I expected it to despite some good performances, The Lovely Bones this is not – and that did hit me quite a bit. The slow, lumbering plot put me off, despite it picking pace a ways into the film, the final third also felt a bit rushed along just to get to the conclusion. Slow burn dramas are very hit and miss with me and this one just didn’t quite hit.


. Plot pacing isn’t great, takes a while to get going

. Has good performances from main leads

. Lack of emotional impact from plot reveals for me

The Foreigner – review

Martin Campbell directs The Foreigner, an action/crime drama set around a businessman and father whose life is turned upside down after his daughter is killed in a terrorist attack, he seeks the names of those involved to get vengeance, looking to a politician who may have links to details around the attack. The film stars Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Katie Leung, Rufus Jones and Mark Tandy.

Ah it’s great to see Jackie Chan in a lead role in 2017, after a self announced retirement from the big screen he seems to be back and this time around, in a very different type of film for him, a sort of revenge tale set in London, Mr Quan is a believably loving family man who… also has special forces training because of course he does, devastated from losing his daughter. The premise seems all too real with real terrorist attacks taking place in London and the UK this year but a new sub-set of the IRA is the focus of the plot, it’s different and a bold take for a film involving revolving around modern terrorism in the UK.

And the film is an engaging, somewhat thrilling watch for a fair portion of the story but then it starts to lose its way, getting lost in intricate political relationships, one upmanship and a pretty incoherent plot threat following various people and plans among the IRA and calling a film ‘incoherent’ is something that’s way overused when it comes to film criticism, I genuinely couldn’t really follow aspects of the plot and didn’t really care to either. The heart of the plot is that tale of revenge for Mr Quan and it takes some suspension of disbelief, to really buy that a Chinese man in his 60s (Mr Quan) could do what he does in the film but hey it is Jackie Chan I guess and for what it’s worth, the action is done pretty well and Chan still kicks ass in close quarters combat, though we do get the feeling that he is fairly aged and mortal which helps bring some realism to things. That being said, seeing some of the things Quan manages to do border on unintentional humor – think Macgyver/Rambo melded into one.

Don’t get fooled though, this is definitely not an action film and you’ll be disappointed if you go into it expecting that. The main problem with the film is that it tries to be a gripping, emotional drama as well as an action thriller and half-asses it at both jobs, being an amalgam but a shallow take on either side. The action is good but few and far between while the dramatic elements are sparse and get lost in silly politics around the IRA and Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan) who you probably don’t really care about at all. Failing to elicit emotional engagement with me was the films biggest downfall in my view, in a story that hinges on empathizing with the main character and his own emotions that drive him forward.


. Action scenes are done well

. By the numbers plot, goes nowhere interesting

. Some plot threads make no sense

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – review

Rian Johnson directs the latest entry in the Star wars saga, following straight on from the events of The Force Awakens with the resistance on the backfoot, Rey insists on Luke training her in the ways of the force and re-joining the resistance to fight the First Order. The film stars Mark Hamil, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Laura Dern, Andy Serkis, Gwnedoline Christie, Lupita N’yongo, Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Daniels and Peter Mayhew.

There was a fear from Star Wars fans that The Last Jedi would do the thing that The Force Awakens did and just be a re-hash of another film fro the original trilogy (the dark masterpiece that is Empire Strikes Back) so I feel people went into the film with a bit of trepidation but ultimately, the result is something entirely new, exciting and captivating.

This is a Star Wars film but also a Rian Johnson film and that’s a great thing, Johnson brings nuance, surprises and a very engaging plot that focuses on characters over action, following the main characters in this new trilogy and genuinely developing them, with a lot of focus on Rey and Kylo Ren naturally. We see new, interesting sides to both of them and we explore the idea of the complexity of the force and how it relates to Jedi, Sith and everyone, with a pretty intriguing section involving Luke and Rey talking about it.

What I like about The Last Jedi is the de-mystification of the force and the Jedi, yes they are cool space wizards but were they all perfect? Maybe not, Luke definitely doesn’t think so and questions like this are intriguing, maybe the average film goer won’t be asking them but they’re important for the Star Wars lore as a whole. The film carried on in a similar vein to Rogue One in my view, breaking down aspects for the Star Wars universe and putting them under a microscope to really break things down, bringing new and interesting aspects to the franchise as a whole, something that has really been needed. The cast on the whole is great, enthusiastic and well fitting in their roles, with the newcomers also being welcome additions, especially Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) who bring interesting dynamics to the existing relationships within the resistance. While returning characters like Finn, Poe and Rey are again great to watch. Adam Driver specifically puts in another spirited performance as brooding  teenager-eque Kylo Ren and makes for a good balancing act with Daisy Ridleys – Rey.

The visuals as well deserve praise, with some of the best framing and shots I’ve seen in any Star Wars film, Snokes throne room looks spectacular, as does the final third on a certain planet and another scene sticks out, involving a character taking a daring action and the result is a pretty fascinating scene.

Admittedly there are some issues with the film that I completely get, with a sub plot involving Finn and Rose that took a little while and did drag on a bit and not finding out key things about certain prominent characters is a bit frustrating but these gripes aren’t nearly big enough to detract from my overall experience with the film. Which in all was an engaging, captivating watch and not just more of the same for Star Wars, it had great twists and turns, stunning visuals and it genuinely surprised me, which is more than I can say for a lot of films in this franchise.


. Strong performances from main cast, one of Mark Hamills best performance, Ridley, Driver and Carrie Fisher are all great

. Plot is engaging, keeps your interest and goes to interesting places

. De-mystifies the force and Jedi, brings interesting ideas to the series

Justice League – review

Justice League is the latest and possibly most important film in the DCEU to date, directed by Zack Snyder and in part Joss Whedon, Batman and Wonder Woman hope to put together a team of other meta-humans in order to stop the invading Steppenwolf before he can change the Earth forever. The film stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Jeremy Irons, Amy Adams and Diane Lane.

Much has already been said about Justice League as you know and much of the conversation has been a mixed bag with some controversy thrown in over the state of the DCEU but I’ll say it right off the bat, Justice League is okay, it’s not terrible and it’s far from the worst of the worst in the comic book film pantheon.

Okay maybe it’s not the best to start off with saying a film isn’t terrible but honestly, if the film is guilty of anything, it’s maybe guilty of trying to hard to please everybody and ultimately falling a bit flat in its execution due to a pretty generic plot and another by the numbers CG villain that has drawn a lot of flak for the film. Steppenwolf is the last generic single minded villain in just about every big comic book film for the last 5 years (including Marvel) so he doesn’t really stand out but he was a low point, with some questionable CGI at that, Cyborgs’ appearance was also a bit iffy at times but Ray Fishers performance saved the character.

And the performances saved the film in essence, with great interaction between the characters that so many of us have grown up idolising and watching on TV or reading about in comic book films, the DC nerd in me was delighted to see them all united on screen, even if this wasn’t the idyllic outing fans have wanted for decades. And in particular, Ben Affleck is great again as Batman, seemingly in his last role as the caped crusader, I’d love to see him bow out in a solo film but we’ll have to wait and see on that one, Gal Gadot again is a highlight as Wonder Woman and Ezra Miller is the surprising but endearing comic relief for the film, with some clear Whedon-esque one liners.

It’s great to see the league in action and fighting together with their unique abilities though you do get a feeling that the action feels a bit repetitive and the stakes never really feel that high, resulting in a “we need to save the world from a generic villain” kind of deal that comes out but you know they will, of course. A big returning character is another highlight for sure – you know who I’m talking about and he does elevate both the action and the cast. The plot also is a mixed bag, starting off a bit slow but speeding off to its conclusion at the end, I can understand how the film could be classed as ‘rushed’, especially in the final third. That being said, some action scenes are pretty great with one on particular involving a prominent league member standing out.

But yeah without having to say too much, the film is okay and that’s probably my biggest criticism of it, it’s not a mind blowing coming together of your favourite DC characters but it’s not as bad as say Suicide Squad or BVS, it’s a definite step in the right direction but things like better character development, stronger villains and a better put together plot would definitely have helped it a bit more.


. Great character interactions and it’s great to see the league together

. Good performances overall

. Generic CG villain, stakes don’t feel too high

. The return of a prominent character could have been handled a bit better

IT – review

IT is a modern horror film adaptation based on a popular Stephen King novel, following a group of bullied school kids in the late 1980s who band together to defeat an evil shapeshifting being, the film stars Bill Skarsgard, Jaden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer and Wyatt Olaff.

Now I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen the original It, though I’m familiar with the general story and premise, it never really grabbed me even as a fairly avid horror film fan but the new film did grab my interest as I wanted to see the story in full and get a taste of the hype as it were. Stephen King is very hit and miss for me – and for quite a lot of people, with a lot of novels, TV shows and films, the majority of which not being too great but I had hope.

Anyway about the film, it capitalizes on the fairly recent 80s nostalgia trip that we seem to be having and that is mostly nailed in the characters clothing, lingo and the setting itself, the time period itself of the late 80s has a feel good association to it and the Goonies, E.T. vibe is unavoidable, watching a group of kids o on a summer adventure, uncovering something mysterious. That something in this case is Pennywise, a pretty creepy looking clown with supernatural powers, as you do, played really well by Bill Skarsgard, so much so that he’s pretty much unrecognizable and quite unsettling to watch for anyone under the age of say, 16 but generally Skarsgard has an interesting physicality and presence to the way he plays the role.

Skarsgard had a huge job to really pull the role off and he did, though the rest of the cast is actually quite good too, with some very enthusiastic and believable performances, mainly from Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) and Beverly (Sophia Lillis), with even some of the side characters getting interesting plot arcs to play off of, the characters interaction and chemistry is also quaint, again believable for a bunch of 12-14 year old kids trying to have fun in summer in the 80s. An interesting point to make about the film for me though is that it’s not scary, I mean not really, I say this as a seasoned horror film fan so I don’t really get scared by films apart from the rare exception but to its credit It, is still pretty damn creepy and unsettling, with a fair bit of disturbing, gross out imagery and things that pennywise does (I hope not too many kids watched the film!). But to be fair for the films target audience, I’m sure it’s a terrifying experience and if so, it succeeded in what it tried to do.

The plot is also a highlight, seemingly quite long, clocking in at a bit over 2 hours but it definitely flies by, without too much slowing down between important plot points while including some interesting side stories that take things a bit deeper than expected out of a supernatural horror film.

Ultimately It, is a pretty good horror film, a rare thing to say in 2017, with effective imagery and scares (not for me but still), strong performances and an engaging plot that has some good pacing to boot, there are surprisingly deep moments and elements to the story as well for the adults and plenty of horror for the kids, an entertaining and somewhat surprisingly disturbing romp.


. Strong perfromances from most of the cast, even side character actors

. Engaging plot with great pacing

. For horror die hards, some of the lore around Pennywise may seem stupid/nonsensical

5 reasons why I think Justice League will be a hit

It’s time… well it’s almost time, time for DC to lay all their cards out and see what happens with Justice League, the film with an entire cinematic universe kinda riding on it, will it be a commercial hit? Will critics love it? I’m pretty curious to find out for myself but we’ll all find out in about a month but until then, here are some of my thoughts on the film and on why I think it’s going to be a hit. (P.S. I wrote this a little while before the social media embargo on the film was lifted recently, so I had no idea what general thoughts on the film were/nothing was out yet!).

The Wonder Woman effect

Make no mistake about it, Wonder Woman was a very, very important film for DC and could well have tanked the DCEU going forward if it flopped but it didn’t, it was a commercial hit and almost everybody loved it and here we are, a month away from Justice League. And with the positive sentiment from the film, I’m sure that a few fans are going into DCs next film with high hopes and anticipation, for a number of reasons I’m sure, because they love DC characters, maybe because of Whedon working on the film and for sure also because the last film in the DCEU was quite good.

It may feel like quite a minor point, sentiment but it sure goes a long way, Marvel has worked off of this with the MCU for 9 years and even with so-so films in the series coming out, none of them have been slated or destroyed by critics because in part none of the films are that bad but you have to admit that audience sentiment plays a part and people will forgive a lackluster Marvel film over a lackluster DC film 9 times out of 10. Because of positive sentiment and familiarity, if you have one one bad experience at your favourite restaurant out of the 10 times you’ve been, you’d be disappointed but probably forgive it, if you have 2 or 3 bad experiences at a new restaurant you’re trying out of 5 times, you’ll probably slate it, so the same sort of logic applies in my view.


This almost goes without saying but…. I’ll say it, Joss Whedon is ironically maybe one of the best things to happen for Justice League, taking the reigns over from Zack Snyder a few months ago, his touch is already evident in recent trailers and I have positive hopes for the films dialogue and character interaction. The film clearly has a lighter touch to it, something fans have been crying out for with Ezra Millers Barry Allen and Aquaman being the conduits for it seemingly, hell the film literally even looks lighter with brighter colours and character costumes, something very deliberate for it.

And say what you want about Whedon but he’s excellent at quippy dialogue and at writing for ensemble dramas, helping to engage and enthrall audiences, all the while getting emotion out of plots as well, all features that should work a treat for Justice League, a film that by no means should be dark, gritty and overly serious.

Your favourite DC characters

A pretty straightforward reason as to why people will flock to see the film (at least I think so) is because of the characters, DC has some of the most beloved characters in comic books in general and seeing Batman, The Flash, Wonder Woman etc on screen together, in live action is something nerdy DC fans have wanted for ages, I mean I know I have. It’s going to be something never before seen and the spectacle alone will bring in a lot of fans, the same way it did for Batman V Superman, despite critical reception.

Great casting

Say what you want about the DCEU, it’s had some pretty great casting in my view, Henry Cavill has been a superb Superman (RIP), Ben Affleck was a wonder stroke as Batman and some peoples favourite even, Gal Gadot is fantastic as Wonder Woman and the rest of the League seem to be great fits also. Not to mention the likes of Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Keaton, there are some great supporting actors in the DCEU so far and the leads have been excellently cast I feel, so whoever has been doing the casting for the films, hats off to you sir/madam because you have been killing it. Oh and let’s not forget Suicide Squad, Jared Leto, Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis… you get the point.

I wonder who we’ll see in Justice League as a brand new face and I’m looking forward to that actually, simply going by the DCEUs past track record.

An underdog 

This is more of a personal viewpoint but people love an underdog story and they like to see an underdog succeed, DC is clearly the underdog in the comic book film stakes and I want them to succeed, maybe a lot of other comic book film fans do as well and I’m sure a lot of DC fans want them to, so you know, fingers crossed. It takes more than the will of the people for a film to succeed of course but I think people will be a bit easier on Justice League actually, even if it’s not that great simply because they want DC to do well and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing less savage take down reviews and more middle of the road ones.

Happy Death Day – review

Christopher Landon directs this mystery thriller set in a college as we follow sorority girl, Tree, as she is forced to relive the same day over and over until she is killed, she attempts to break the cycle and identify her killer, the film stars Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Charles Aitken and Laura Cliften.

Ah the old ground hog day plot in which a central protagonist is forced into a time loop and forced to re-live the same day, trying to break the cycle, you’re familiar with the plot structure and you’ve seen it all before but not quite like Happy Death Day, which does manage to set itself apart in the end, both with its premise (of the main character re-setting their day because of dying) and because of little plot intricacies here and there that differentiate the film from others of the same type.

Giving too much away would be spoiling things of course but the story is refreshingly… different, helped in part by a relatively unknown but fresh faced and enthusiastic cast, especially in the lead – tree (Jessica Rothe) who pulls off a convincingly believable performance, there’s just something very genuine about her personality and while it’s not wholly unique, it feels realistic, as do some of the other characters like Carter (Israel Broussard) and even the stereotypical ones. The plot is actually pretty engaging as well as you go along the story and probably have your own ideas and and conclusions as to why Tree is stuck in a timeloop, who her killer is and so on but importantly, the plot manages to keep you invested and will also probably keep you guessing.

The films dialogue and writing in general is also a strong point to the film, with an irreverent slice of life look at modern college life for a girl in a sorority, portraying stereotypes in a humorous way and mocking the over the top nature colleges can in real life take while not really making them the main point of the story. It’s sort of like Dear White People meets Evil Dead and while that’s a bizarre mashup indeed, basically the film doesn’t take itself too seriously. And interestingly, while the film is a thriller, it also has a surprising amount of drama and genuine character development namely with Tree, who goes on an interesting journey and quite visibly changes throughout the course of the story, rather than going through the motions and just surviving, this makes the plot more than just a slasher and a generic who-dunnit with a mystery element to it.

All in all, Happy Death Day is quite the pleasant surprise, a quirky, fun thriller with an engaging plot and some strong performances, it’s a film you may not be too bothered to see but you may just enjoy if you have even half the fun that the film has with itself.


. Strong riting

. Engaging plot

. Nuanced in parts but also cliché in others