Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

I really, really wanted to like “Happy Birthday to Me.” I love ’80s slashers (especially the early ’80s ones, like “My Bloody Valentine” and “Friday the 13th” because of their grimy aesthetics and innocent fumbling before the unwritten rules of slashers became common), but this is a joyless, long-winded soap opera pretending to be a slasher. It’s two hours of poorly defined social dynamics impacting the plot in ways that are both confusing and boring, and there’s not a single likable character in sight, beginning with protagonist Virginia: She’s dour, distant and stand-offish, and while we later find out her reasons why, it doesn’t make her any more sympathetic. It’s weird to watch a slasher with a lead that’s simultaneously the least interesting and most irritating character, made all the more punishing by the almost complete absence of character development and the ridiculously overlong running time. The infamous death scenes are as peculiar as you’d expect, but there’s also kind of lame: Like, you’d get really hurt but you wouldn’t necessarily die from what happens here, so there isn’t much going on that’s worth anyone’s time. It’s a curiosity watch at best, and now that I’ve seen it, I’m happy to never watch or think about it again.

Rating: ★★ (out of 5)

8 comments

  1. The movie is obviously trying to do something different (and they even managed to get Glenn Ford!), but I agree, it doesn’t work. With that being said, I can’t hate something that’s so ’80s! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree with you. The whole thing is like a big tease. But I found it an interesting departure from the slasher formula. Plus it was truly shocking to see goody two-shoes Melissa Sue Anderson in the midst of so much mayhem.

        Liked by 1 person

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