GRAPHIC BY YING YANG
By EMMA CHANG
In an era of cheap horror movies, there is nothing to celebrate this Halloween.
On Friday Oct. 13, the thriller Happy Death Day was released. The film illustrates the daily happenings of a narcissistic college student, Teresa Gelbman. After waking up in a stranger’s bed, Teresa goes about her day, only to be murdered that same night. In a split second she finds herself waking up in the same room from the previous morning, as if the day had been restarted. A sadistic cycle begins as Teresa is brutally murdered each night, until she is finally able to deduce her murderer’s identity.
Unfortunately, poorly executed films are nothing new to viewers, especially around Halloween time. Happy Death Day is no exception. In spite of its seemingly interesting plot, there is nothing exceptional about this run-of-the-mill scary movie.
As seen from Happy Death Day and other failed movies, Hollywood is running in circles in search of new plots. Many modern day movies, horror especially, are merely old storylines being reinvented by new producers with better effects.
Happy Death Day is one of many films that have merely rebooted an old plot with new characters. The films Edge of Tomorrow and Before I Fall share many similarities to Happy Death Day, minus their own twists on the concept of a never-ending day. One of the main protagonists also mentions the resemblance of Teresa’s experience to that featured in the 1993 classic, Groundhog Day. Audiences are looking for new storylines, not the same worn out plots that make new movies boring and pointless.
Furthermore, a common fault with modern thrillers is the overuse of effects and cinematic elements in place of a truly frightening diegesis. As more developments are made in cinematography and computer-generated imagery (CGI), producers have begun to rely more on the effects illustrating the plot, rather than the plot itself as their “scare factors.”
Though Happy Death Day does not incorporate as much slash and blood, producers made many attempts to increase scare factor by excessively using suspenseful music, alternate camera angles, and various other effects. Regardless of their intentions, these factors have only further worsened the viewing experience for audience, who hoped for a film that would leave them on the edge of their seats, but instead became irate at the movie’s faulty attempts.
Finally, Happy Death Day’s plot also left viewers unsatisfied with its poor character and plot development. Despite being to solve her own murder, there is no explanation as to why the reoccurring day phenomena transpired. The movie also incorporated many scenes just for the purpose of not revealing the antagonist, a greatly overused process that resulted only in the audience’s confusion, rather than suspense. Audiences can not even begin to suspect the antagonist’s identity with the movie’s lack of proper character development. As a result, viewers are left unsatisfied and bewildered by the lack of a sound resolution.
Though this may be a strategic cinematic element if used properly, Happy Death Day disturbs this concept by creating an poorly developed antagonist with an inane reason for their murderous intentions. To elaborate, the film plays out and points to several characters as possible suspects, but introduces a poorly developed antagonist with an irrational motive. This attribute makes for a confusing and ultimately terrible movie, deferring far from its original purpose to frighten its viewers.
All in all, the reoccurrence of these elements easily makes Happy Death Day and other modern day films a satire to truly frightening movies.