If you enjoy watching women being killed Happy Death Day (2017) is the movie for you! Women are shown being killed 12 times (murdered in 10 cases and two are hit by a bus), a woman commits suicide and a woman dies in her sleep (after being poisoned). Women are shown chased, stabbed (with knives but also broken glass), shot, hit with a baseball bat, poisoned, kicked out a second storey window... one dies in a car explosion. Moreover, the settings for these deaths are varied enough for even the most demanding misogynist: they are killed in their room, at a party, in a fountain, in a hospital and on the highway. Even the suicide scene does not disappoint. Whereas characters typically hang themselves in a room with a relatively low ceiling and do not drop more than a metre or two at most the young woman who hangs herself in Happy Death Day does it in a bell tower, jumping several storeys to her death.
The language used in Happy Death Day is also telling. Women are called a b*tch eight times, 'whore' or 'ho' three times, 'slut' twice, as well as wench and dumbass. They are likened to cat ladies, and the adjectives used to describe them are far from flattering (e.g. sneaky, crazy, cheap, dumb, clumsy).
As if the deaths and language were not enough there is the sexualization of women and antagonism between women. For instance, and for no good reason, the lead female character walks through her campus naked in one scene. She also has an antagonistic relationship with the two other lead females (i.e. her roommate and her sorority sister). The message conveyed by the filmmakers is that women do not naturally get along.
After analysing over 460 mainstream movies for my upcoming 750-page book on the sexualization of women in media I am no stranger to sexist portrayals of women and movies full of misogyny. Still, Happy Death Day is evidence that an escalation has occurred (and it made US$125 million at the worldwide box office!). Personally, I wish writer Scott Lobdell and director Christopher Landon would find a new day job.
© 2018 Alline Cormier