The international trailer for Happy Death Day has arrived, and it seems like the marketing department at Universal is really emphasizing the “Death Day” aspects of director Christopher Landon’s upcoming film, perhaps to the detriment of the “Happy” parts. If you get the nagging feeling you’ve seen the trailer before, there’s a reason: the premise is straight from Groundhog Day, down to the annoying song on the clock radio (50 Cent instead of Sonny & Cher) that wakes up the film’s protagonist (Jessica Rothe instead of Bill Murray) as she relives the same day over and over again.
But Happy Death Day differs from Groundhog Day in much the same way Death Day differs from Groundhog Day: Instead of a depressed weatherman, Rothe plays a college student forced to relive the day of her own murder at the hands of a mad killer. Which is something you might also get the nagging feeling you’ve seen before—Source Code, Edge of Tomorrow, etc.—but translating the concept into the slasher genre instead of science fiction makes all the difference. The time loop means Rothe gets to be both the Final Girl and the killer’s first victim, and the interplay between slasher movie conventions and the film’s structural conceit looks very promising, if oddly familiar.
There’s also something to be said for a creepy, memorable horror movie villain, and on that score, it looks like Happy Death Day delivers. The killer’s “Demented Baby with One Tooth Right in the Center of its Mouth” mask might not be a Michael-Myers-level piece of costume design, but it’s still plenty frightening, especially if you’ve been hearing strange noises in the apartment since you pressed play on the trailer, which you really do think you’ve seen before, and even now, writing about it, you can almost make out the cheerful blue eyes of the killer’s mask reflected in the laptop screen, as if he were standing right behind you, and the second you turn around
Update, Sept. 23, 2017: After watching the trailer for Happy Death Day, I logged in to Slate’s content management system to write about it, only to discover this post already loaded up, presumably by my oh-so-clever colleagues at Slate. Which, very funny, good prank everyone, and, yes, this is roughly the angle I planned to take, but I don’t see the reflection of the Happy Death Day killer in my monitor behind me so, oh no. Oh no. Oh NO!
Update, Sept. 23, 2017: Fine, this is a pretty good parody of the tedious meta-jokes I sometimes enjoy making, but you know what? I’m going to publish it anyway. I can laugh at myself, you know? After all, it’s not like there’s really a killer in my house, and I’m not really in some kind of time loop that is making me relive the last moments of my life, moments that I spent writing about the trailer for Happy Death Day for some reason, and oh my God. This is not a prank!
Update, Sept. 23, 2017: So if this isn’t a prank, then I’m going to be murdered soon, and then I’m going to warp back to the moment I pressed play on the Happy Death Day trailer, right? And eventually log in to post this, only to find it already written? So I might as well leave a message here for the next version of myself, since Slate’s website has somehow become an interdimensional connection point for all the various ways my murder could play out. Like, that’s the premise of this very funny prank, right? So, hey, future me, who I definitely believe in: if this is real, tell the next future you something only you would know. Before the killer, who I definitely also believe in, shows up behind you, and shit shit shit shit shit
Update, Sept. 23, 2017: Fine, I’ll play your dumb little game. When I was four and my sister was on the way, my parents took me to some kind of workshop for soon-to-be older siblings, and they made all the kids say what their favorite foods were. And I said mine was Spam, and apparently my parents felt very judged by the other parents whose kids liked healthy food, which I get, but on the other hand they were also feeding a four-year-old Spam, so who’s really to blame here? You probably thought you’d get an embarrassing story out of me, right? That was the point of this? But this is mostly embarrassing to my parents, so when the killer doesn’t appear in the monitor, my Slate colleagues will oh no oh no oh no
Update, Sept. 23, 2017: I am so sorry I doubted you, past, murdered mes. So I’m gonna try something here: Hypothetically, if I were seeing the killer reflected behind me right now, and I didn’t turn around, if I just kept typing like some kind of culture blogging Scheherazade, mayik9 n hnukm n afd;ksfdgh;
Update, Sept. 23, 2017: Well, that clearly didn’t work. Maybe if I stop typing and reach for these scissors verrrrry slowly…
Update, Sept. 23, 2017: Verrrrry quickly…
Update, Sept. 23, 2017: Kind of medium speed…
Update, Sept. 23, 2017: ATTENTION NEXT VERSION OF ME: please consider the fact that my killer may be reading this article and refrain from discussing strategy and tactics in the future. Or not the future, I guess, but future iterations of the same present? When you’re being forced to relive your own murder at the hands of a demented baby-masked psychopath, verb tenses are always the first casualty. Having taken the time in this iteration of my death to warn myself against giving away my plans by publishing them in an article about the international trailer for Happy Death Day—which, if you were the killer from Happy Death Day, wouldn’t articles about Happy Death Day be the first thing you’d read, genius?—I’m going to turn around and face the music now, and who knows, maybe this whole thing was about facing the fear of death all along, and if I accept that mortality is a necessary precondition for all the joy life has to offer, the killer will
Update, Sept. 23, 2017: I don’t think it’s spoiling any big secret to say that the killer seems to be less interested in helping me face the fear of death in a general sense and more interested in killing me, personally, in a very specific sense. In the interests of maintaining operational security as I attempt to thwart him, this will be my last update to this post. Happy Death Day will be in theaters on Oct. 13.
Update, Sept. 23, 2017: Everything is very good ignore these postings and bloggings please kind people good people do not send the police the time loop is broken the bad person is gone I took care of him I wore his mask and I became him and I punished him I punished him for being a bad person and now he is gone he is gone but I am here I am here now I am here with you I am here