“When two friends embark on a journey to Mexicali for a birthday celebration, they soon realize their psychedelic shenanigans have taken a turn for the worse.”
Originally, I thought this movie was going to be some weird FROM DUSK TILL DAWN knockoff, since it’s a horror film based in Mexico, but boy was I wrong! HAPPY BIRTHDAY starts off with our main character Brady (Matt Bush), who discovers some very unfortunate news on his birthday. We then fast forward a few hours into the day when we meet our second primary character, Tommy (Riley Litman) who is our main characters best friend, and the one treating him to a Birthday Breakfast. What I liked about this film was the writers didn’t hesitate on diving straight into this film. There is minimal build up but this allows for the movie to start moving fairly quickly especially once Brady’s friends surprise him with a trip to “the real Mexico”; this is when our plot starts to get really rolling.
Once in Mexico the film establishes more of a the character when we meet Katie (Vanessa Lengies) and Lucia (Britne Old Fort). Their story created a sense of underlying tension with a storyline intended to scare off our American tourists… or possibly even entice them… As the film continues on we begin to meet more characters which allow for an even darker feel to the film that left me feeling a bit uneasy. Our main character is constantly doubting every decision his friends make and you can really feel his stress which builds onto this already tense undertone within the movie.
During the entire journey they are led by the “Texican” (Erik Palladino) and his bodyguard friend El Caballo (Matthew Willig) and this ends up being one of my favorite sequences out of the entire movie. Steven Tyler (yes, THAT Steven Tyler) plays a Shaman named Kasape Suka who gives our now primary characters A LOT of psychedelics. This is when the movie started to get really weird; however, weird is good for me most of the time and I find myself becoming more invested.
After some strange occurrences in a crappy little bar, Brady and Tommy meet back up with Katie and Lucia. It appears the movie starts to take a lighter turn but only for a very brief period. At this point I’m thinking that some slasher/cartel type dudes are going to burst through the door and start torturing these guys, but again, I’m wrong. As the plot progresses in a downward spiral we find our main character, Brady, doing whatever he can to fight his way out of his predicament. Days seem to pass and the situation continues to worsen for Brady. This film does a great job in showing you what a person will resort to for their own survival and you come to learn the truth behind the saying, “If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?” As the ending came around, I found myself really enjoying this film. I was expecting something completely different and not as much of an elaborate piece of work that it was. Overall, I enjoyed HAPPY BIRTHDAY, and though I wouldn’t consider it a horror film per say, it did a great job of opening me up to more thriller-esque films. This is one of those films you don’t want to miss when it is released later this month!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY will be coming to theaters, VOD and Digital EST on September 9th