Well, this was a complete surprise... I only went to see the movie because (a) it was on at the right time to fit in with something else and (b) it was ending its run yesterday.
And also, and I suppose crucially, because I'm always up for a horror film, in the vain hope that it might be a good one. And this was.
Basically it's Groundhog Day re-purposed as a slasher movie. Every morning our heroine Tree Gelbman (played by Jessica Rothe) wakes up and lives through the same day, which culminates in her being killed by a masked assailant.
She has to work out who her killer is, and thereby break the time-loop and resume her life. This is a perfectly workable premise for a horror movie, indeed it's a pretty nifty one. It's only demerit is that it's such a clear ripoff of Groundhog Day.
But it gets around this, and garners lots of brownie points, by openly acknowledging the influence ("You've never seen Groundhog Day?").
I also really liked it because it has a story twist which was both unexpected and satisfying — tying up a bunch of loose-ends in the plot which I thought they were going to leave dangling.
Jessica Rothe is terrific. At first I didn't like her, but I was just making the rookie error of confusing the actress with the character she played. Tree Gelman is very unlikable, and Rothe does a great job of making this believable.
But as Tree's plight continues, her behaviour changes, and we warm to her — and Rothe gets to demonstrate the range of her talent.
The movie is written by Scott Lobdell who has a background in scripting Marvel comics, and TV animation series. He's done an excellent job here as has the director, Christopher Landon, who's done a lot of work (as a writer as well as a director) on the Paranormal Activity series.
These guys have come up with a very clever device: the movie is set at Bayview University (actually Loyola, New Orleans) and the football team is called the "Bayview Babies" and fans wear these cartoon baby-face masks.
The killer adopts one of these, and it's mega-creepy.
The movie has its flaws. I mean, it's set in America, so all Tree has to do to defeat her killer is go down to the nearest gun shop and buy an assault rifle with her credit card and blow him to hell... but I'm willing to suspend my disbelief here.
Because it's an imaginative, fun little movie. And it has the best title sequence I've seen in a long time (which plays at the end of the film).
If you're a fan of horror movies, especially ones with an element of comedy, then I think you'll enjoy this. I'm only sorry I didn't see it in time to recommend it for Halloween.
(Image credits: Not a happy day at Imp Awards, where I could only find two posters, the birthday cake and the baby mask with the cupcake and candle. So I had to ransack IMDB for the excellent black and white portrait of Jessica Rothe by Jan-Willem Dikkers. And then I found the rather nice comic-art style poster by Matt Robot is from Poster Spy. The nice knife = candle one by Alex CPS is also from Poster Spy. I think both these Poster Spy efforts are better than the official one. The DVD cover, which I think is also unofficial is from Cover City.)