Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Film Review: Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

Happy Birthday to Me (Review)
Canada/1981
Format Viewed for Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"If you're a fan of the genre, this is one slasher you shouldn't miss."

At the Crawford Academy, a group of students are stalked and killed by a mysterious person...

Happy Birthday to Me follow Virginia, a senior at the prestigious Crawford Academy. She is a part of the "Top Ten" clique, which is filled with the most popular and richest students at the school. As her eighteenth birthday nears, Virginia's friends start vanishing one-by-one—killed by a person they all recognize. Virginia, who suffered from a traumatic experience during her childhood, believes the murders are linked to her. The plot leads to a great climax and a solid ending. Parts of it are predictable while other parts are unique and interesting.

Happy Birthday to Me is a slasher, but it is different compared to its peers. The film is slow-paced, lengthy, and "serious"—for lack of a better term. I appreciate the plot's focus on character, but the characters just aren't very interesting. I felt some of the scenes lingered for far too long, too, which causes the runtime to bloat compared to other tighter slashers. Still, I was engaged from beginning to end. I liked the more serious tone of the story, too. It has some bloody surprises and some very tense moments. I liked the depiction of insanity as well. It has some great visuals. I predicted some parts of the film, but others genuinely caught me by surprise.

The acting was mostly good. It was better than a lot of the slashers from the time. The film was also shot well. It stands the test of time in terms of cinematography and picture quality. The music blended well with the film. In this case, it never really stands out. The film was written by Timothy Bond, Peter Jobin, John Saxton, and John Beaird; J. Lee Thompson directs. In terms of writing, the film packs a few twists and turns, but it's otherwise a fairly routine slasher; I'm surprised it had four writers. Thompson is a great director, he knows how to create suspense and horror without sacrificing elements of the plot or resorting to jump-scares, but some scenes are too long. He allowed too much fat too make it into the final film.

Overall, Happy Birthday To Me is a very good slasher. It's not quite as good as Black Christmas or Halloween, but it is entertaining and frightening. If you're a fan of the genre, this is one slasher you shouldn't miss.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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