‘Happy Death Day’ Is An Enjoyable Slasher Remake Of ‘Groundhog Day’

Maybe they should’ve called it ‘Punxsutawney Kill’?

Happy Death Day (PG13)

Starring Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard

Directed by Christopher Landon

A college co-ed (Jessica Rothe) is condemned to relive the worst day of her life over and over  — her own murder. Yes, it’s the slasher version of Groundhog Day. (The movie is meta enough to reference the Bill Murray classic.) You know the drill: our heroine has to repeat the cycle until she finds out who her killer is.

Happy Death Day is atypically lightweight coming from horror merchant Jason Blum, with director Christopher Landon (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse) focusing more on the comical aspects than the macabre; it has some good scares but is never mean-spirited. (***)

​​​​​​​Four things you should know about Happy Death Day co-star Israel Broussard...

happy death day israel broussard
Happy Death Day's Israel Broussard

1. He spent four days filming the dorm room scene where his character greets Jessica Rothe’s trapped-in-a-time-loop heroine… repeatedly.

“For my character, it is the same thing every time,” Broussard tells us over the phone from LA. But the challenge for him is to say the line —“Hey, you’re up” — as if it were the first time. “It is truly up to Jessica because she is the one having the different experience. I was just bouncing off her energy. It was fun, though! I never got sick of it.” In fact, he had so much fun that he doesn’t mind reliving the making of Happy Death Day over and over. And the project he doesn’t want to be stuck in repeat mode? “My fourth grade elementary school talent show. I want to be away from that day for the rest of my life.”

happy death day israel jessica
Have we done this before...: Jessica Rothe and Israel Broussard in 'Happy Death Day'.

2. He’s a big fan of Groundhog Day, not scary movies.

“I saw the TV mini-series It when I was 12, and that kind of scared me away from the whole genre,” says the LA-based actor from Mississippi. “But since then, I’ve seen the Paranormal Activity series, and The Strangers, which I loved, so I respect and appreciate [the artistry behind them]. Even though horror isn’t [in my wheelhouse], I do like being on the edge of my seat and having my adrenaline pumped up.” He’s staying put in the thriller phase for a while: his next gig is Extinction, an alien-invasion flick co-starring Michael Pena (Ant-Man).

3. He doesn’t have a role model.

“I definitely have people whom I appreciate their artistry, but for the most part — this may sound pretentious and narcissistic —  I like focusing on being the best me I can be,” says Broussard, who made his film debut in Rob Reiner’s 2011 coming-of-age drama Flipped and has worked with Hollywood royalty Sofia Coppola (The Bling Ring) and Bryce Dallas Howard (the M83 music video ‘Claudia Lewis’). “I find that when I start idolising other people, it carries me away from who I really am.”

4. There’s an adorable YouTube video of him pronouncing his name. 

“Basically, I have to do a self-tape for auditions, where you have to say “Hi, I’m Mr Broussard, I’m with this agency,” and all that. I had a speech impediment with my Rs growing up, and just conveniently, I have a name that has a hard R in ‘Israel’, so when I was little, I’d say ‘Iswael’. I couldn’t say the R. So when I mumble or talk too fast, I can’t pronounce my name correctly. One day my mum and I were doing the self-tape, and we were just having fun saying my name. I don’t know why I uploaded that video (laughs).”


Photos: UIP, TPG News/Click Photos 

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