See It Instead: Happy Death Day.
Despite actually enjoying Happy Death Day, we still picked three movies that will excite you on Friday the 13th.
Usually we pick our See It Instead movies as a hedge against a bad movie. I was pretty sure that Happy Death Day was going to fit into that category based on the trailer, but Nate braved the non-existent Thursday theater crowds and ended up enjoying the film. So, seeing as if science teaches us anything, it is to accept our failures, like our successes, with quiet dignity and grace… I scrapped my three first picks and chose three films based on Nate’s review. Enjoy!
Happy Death Day (2017)
College sorority girl Tree Gelbman is a self-centered and nasty piece of work. On her birthday, which falls on Friday the 13th, she wakes up from an apparent one night stand and runs into every person on campus who she has screwed over or belittled in her time at school. The day that started awkwardly gets even worse when Tree winds up murdered! Fortunately for her, she wakes up in the same random dorm room, apparently repeating the same day. No matter what she does, she can’t seem to change the ending, and she needs to find a way out of the time loop…preferably one where she doesn’t end up murdered.
The Lighthearted Pick: Groundhog Day (1993)
Bill Murray plays Phil, a big city weatherman with a major chip on his shoulder. Forced to cover Puxatawney Phil on Groundhog Day, he quickly alienates everyone around him with his superiority complex. Things get awkward when a freak snow storm forces him to spend the night in the sleepy little town. When he wakes up the next day, he discovers that he is being forced to relive Groundhog Day over and over until he stops being such a schmuck.
For being the progenitor of the “repeat one day over and over till you get it right” genre, Groundhog day absolutely knocks the concept out of the park. Bill Murray is his consummate best as the sardonic asshole, a character he practically trademarked in the 80’s and 90’s. Written by Harold Ramis and Danny Rubin, the script is smart, funny, and surprisingly deep in its emotional content and philosophical musings. While other movies focused on one or two aspects of repeated a day, Groundhog Day covered them all as Murray does every awful thing he can think of to escape, and then every nice thing he can think of, and then every romantic thing he can think of…and then all of the awful things again just for good measure. If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out since this is a comedy classic you can watch over and over and over until you get it right.
The Serious Pick: Scream (1996)
Sidney Prescot and her friends are just returning to normal life after the tragic murder of Sidney’s mother. A year after the unsolved killing, they all start to receive criptic calls and threats. As they start to get picked off one by one, they realize that the killer is using their love of classic slasher movies to play a cat and mouse game of death.
Directed by horror master Wes Craven, Scream is a smart blend of horror and comedy that delights in riffing on the slasher flicks that made Craven famous while still being a rock solid horror film. While the film does tend to lean more heavily into the comedic elements, there is a fascinating murder mystery that underpins the whole plot. You wind up relating to the cast because you’re in the same boat as they are: well aware of the tropes of the genre and trying to solve a crime where those tropes are being used against you at every turn. A love letter to 80’s horror classics, Scream put a fresh breath into the lungs of the serial killer genre.
The Unconventional Pick: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
Buffy Summers (Kristy Swanson) is a spoiled valley girl with a life that makes her the envy of her classmates. Things start to change, however, when a mysterious man (Donald Sutherland) arrives to warn her about her destiny: she is the chosen Slayer, a vampire hunter who must confront the creatures of the night. Buffy scoffs at his words until he is able to convince her with his uncanny abilities. Still, Buffy would still rather be captain of the cheerleading squad than a supernatural monster killer. Unfortunately, a vampire king (Rutger Hauer) moves into town and gives Buffy little choice but to fight to save her friends.
Buffy is a guilty pleasure, an unabashedly schlocky cult classic. Before there were genre mash-ups like Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, there was Buffy – a send up of valley girl culture mixed with action and gore and a surreal sense of humor. Think Clueless plus supernatural vampire fights. The cast is much too good to be in this flick. Perhaps the presence of so many former A-listers slumming it up was the source of the film’s charm, or maybe it was the irreverent source material from Joss Whedon. Whatever it was, the film is a self-deprecating treat and has Pee-Wee Herman star Paul Reubens as a creepy vampire thrall. What more can you ask for?