Happy Death Day (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Jul 01, 2022
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Happy Death Day (4K UHD Review)

Director

Christopher Landon

Release Date(s)

2017 (May 31, 2022)

Studio(s)

Blumhouse/Universal Pictures (Shout!/Scream Factory)
  • Film/Program Grade: B
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: A
  • Extras Grade: B

Happy Death Day (4K UHD)

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Review

In development since 2007, Happy Death Day had a 10-year journey to the big screen when Blumhouse Productions picked it up and Christoper Landon (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and Freaky) signed on to direct. The story focuses on college student Theresa, or simply Tree (Jessica Rothe), waking up on her birthday hungover in the bed of another student, Carter (Israel Broussard). As she goes about her normal day as a less than savory person to those around her, she’s murdered while on her way to a party later that evening. Suddenly waking up back in Carter’s bed, she finds herself reliving the day’s events over and over again. This forces her to discover the identity of her murderer and stop them, all while learning to be a better person along the way.

I was initially skeptical going into Happy Death Day. When a film starts with negative or annoying characters, it takes a lot of will power not to reach for the remote control. Tree isn’t a nice person, but it’s necessary for the purpose of allowing us to grow with her and learning to care about her more than we do at the outset. It helps that Jessica Rothe is extremely good at playing both sides of the spectrum. While the multiple deaths that occur are sometimes played for overt laughs, there’s also a ticking clock element built in as well. When she comes back each time, she’s weaker and weaker, meaning that eventually she won’t come back at all. It gives the narrative a little more momentum and is better with it than without it. The mix of genres doesn’t blend thoroughly, but the film still manages to tell a compelling story with a strong central character. With fun performances and strong characters, as well as a healthy dose of set up and pay off, Happy Death Day is surprisingly enjoyable.

Happy Death Day was captured digitally by cinematographer Toby Oliver at 2.8K resolution using ARRI Alexa Mini cameras and Cooke S4/i and Angenieux Optimo Zoom lenses. It was then finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate in the aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Scream Factory’s Ultra HD release is an upsample that has now been graded for high dynamic range (HDR10 is the only option), yet there are improvements all around. Digital cinematography has gotten better over time, and Happy Death Day was pleasant but flat-looking on Blu-ray. The increase in depth and detail in the shadows on this new release allows for even finer nuances. The new HDR pass gives the very colorful palette added dimension. Hues are richer during the disco party scenes, the daytime campus walks, and the nighttime stalk and slash moments. Flesh tones are also healthier. Textures have been heightened, with additional clarity, and there are no obvious imperfections. Despite being an upsample, this presentation is quite potent.

Audio options include the same English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track as the previous Blu-ray, as well as a new 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio option, with subtitles in English SDH. The 5.1 track is aggressive with crystal clear dialogue, a strong score, and sound effects that are all over the sound stage. Atmospherics during daytime and nighttime scenes are highly enveloping, including Tree’s multiple treks across the campus courtyard. LFE activity is frequent and booming as well. The 2.0 option is a much tighter fold-down for those without access to surround sound systems. The previous Blu-ray also included audio options in Spanish and French 5.1 DTS, as well as additional subtitles in Spanish and French.

Happy Death Day is presented on 4K Ultra HD in a black amaray case alongside a Blu-ray disc of the film in 1080p and an insert that replicates the original theatrical artwork. The following extras are included, all in HD:

DISC ONE: UHD

  • Audio Commentary with Christopher Landon and Jessica Rothe

DISC TWO: BD

  • Audio Commentary with Christopher Landon and Jessica Rothe
  • Alternate Ending (2:21)
  • Deleted Scene: Cupcakes and Killers (4:59)
  • Deleted Scene: You Killed Me! (2:33)
  • Deleted Scene: Tree’s Final Walk of Shame (1:45)
  • Worst Birthday Ever! (3:14)
  • The Many Deaths of Tree (1:34)
  • Behind the Mask: The Suspects (3:15)

In my original review of the Universal Blu-ray of Happy Death Day, I expressed my disappointment in the lack of extras, saying “At the very least, I would have liked to have had an audio commentary with Christopher Landon and Jessica Rothe.” This has now come to pass. It’s a delightful look back at the film, with both Landon and Rothe sharing their memories of the experience as they watch it together for the first time in a long time (according to Rothe). Various subjects come up, including Rothe’s costumes, the color timing, relationships with the actors, the collaboration process, problems during the production, shooting schedules, stunt performers, alternate and deleted scenes, and the possibilities of a third film. Rothe and Landon are really tight with each other, making for a humorous and fun back and forth, which makes up for the rest of the extras. It’s standard studio-produced material for the most part, but it manages to include an alternate ending (which was screened for test audiences and rejected) and three deleted scenes, none of which are missed. Unfortunately, the promotional material (trailers, TV spots, etc) couldn’t be included due to home video clearance issues.

Scream Factory’s 4K Ultra HD upgrade of Happy Death Day is a welcome one. With an improved presentation and the addition of the very enjoyable audio commentary, it makes for a more satisfactory package than the fairly generic Universal Blu-ray release. For fans of this series, it comes highly recommended.

- Tim Salmons

(You can follow Tim on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook. And be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel here.)

 

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