Please don’t call Happy Death Day a horror-comedy. For marketers and producers, the ‘horror-comedy’ label is the kiss of death, dooming any hope of box-office success. There’s a perception (right or wrong) that people just don’t see horror-comedies in theaters, that this combo of laughs and scares turns off prospective ticket buyers. Want to know just how deadly the ‘horror-comedy’ label is? Once not too long ago, I did (script) coverage for a reputable horror production company. On one submitted script, I inputted ‘horror-comedy’ as the genre and that was it – didn’t matter how good the script was or that I actually overall recommended it, the horror-comedy label was enough for an automatic pass.
The stigma is so strong that even in the above interview, producer Jason Blum seems reluctant to call Happy Death Day – a film which takes most of its cue from Groundhog Day – a horror-comedy, opting instead for the label ‘horror-fun’. You can’t really blame Blum though. The ‘horror fun’ label has worked wonders for his production company Blumhouse, especially with the runaway success of Get Out (which, yes, is also a horror-comedy). But hey, if the price of more Get Outs and Happy Death Days is that we have to pretend they’re not really horror-comedies at all, but some market-approved in-between… then, well, so be it.
In the ‘horror-fun’ Happy Death Day, sorority girl Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) relives the same day over and over and over again (a la Bill Murray in Groundhog Day). The catch: at the end of each day, Tree is brutally murdered by a masked assailant. In order to end this perpetual time loop, Tree must now solve her own murder and defeat her killer.
At the film’s press day, producer Jason Blum and director Christopher B. Landon discussed the stigma of horror-comedies, crafting the perfect killer mask and coming up with the rules for a time loop. For the full interview, watch above, along with this helpful index:
- How did Blum & Landon come up with the Happy Death Day killer’s mask?
- What other prototypes did they test for the mask?
- How did the duo come up with the title Happy Death Day? [the working title was Half to Death]
- How much did the script for Happy Death Day change during the development process?
- Why hasn’t anyone ever thought of a slasher Groundhog Day before?
- Is there still a stigma to the label ‘horror-comedy’?
Is Blumhouse embracing more horror-comedies in recent years?
- Did Landon prioritize Happy Death Day as a comedy or a horror film?
- What exactly is causing the time loop in Happy Death Day?
- What Blumhouse Tilt films are coming up that horror fans should keep an eye out for?
And for more on Happy Death Day, be sure to visit the following links:
- ‘Happy Death Day’ Review: A Breezy, Self-Aware Time Loop Slasher
- Jason Blum on “The Horrors of Blumhouse” Maze, ‘Happy Death Day’ and ‘The Purge 4’
- ‘Happy Death Day’ Trailer Reveals ‘Groundhog Day’-Esque Slasher Movie