Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma
Director: Christopher Landon
If you’re going to make a sequel to a slasher movie, I can’t imagine too many going better than Happy Death Day 2U. Very few movies understand their subject matter quite like this one and that helps set the tone throughout the entire. From the first trailer, I knew this would be an enjoyable experience based on the fact that it seemed to be going with more of black-comedy angle than the horror one, but within the context of the film’s universe it was very appropriate. While it goes off the rails a few times with its tone, the dark humor and way too good of a performance by Rothe make Happy Death Day 2U a pleasant inclusion in the February release lineup.
The film follows Tree Gelbman (Rothe) a college student who in the previous movie had to repeat the same day everyday until she killed the person who was killing her. This time around, after a science experiment goes horribly wrong, Tree is now in a different universe where she is going through the same repetition but the details surrounding this universe aren’t the same which provides a new set of obstacles for her to overcome. The thing many sequels suffer from is that they just rehash the same material from the first movie in an attempt to cash in on the success of the former. In Happy Death Day 2U, we see a film that step away from that repetition and introduce a series of new jokes and ideas into the movie. Some of the concepts that were underdeveloped in the first movie are explained very well in this film and we end up getting new ideas paired with it to create a new and exciting universe. Outside of the originality, Rothe is way too talented to be in a movie like this and she outshines everyone by a wide margin. Mark my words, this girl is going to be a superstar one day and if she’s placed in the right role, she can take home some serious awards in the future. Rothe embraces her character and makes it feel like she is fully committed to this movie every step of the way. A sensible blend of funny, smart, emotional, and fear-stricken, Rothe probably had a blast filming this movie and inserts it with the burst of energy this film relies on. The only small issue I have with this movie is that the tone shifts can be a little awkward at times. There are moments when the movie goes from being a dark comedy to a slasher movie to a tear-jerker to a love story. This feels a little weird at times because I go from a feeling of suspense to laughing to tearing up and there’s not a whole lot of warning that this change is coming. These moments are rare, but when they do pop up, they take a moment to get adjusted to which can be annoying at times. Other than that, Happy Death Day 2U is a fun sequel that can be enjoyed as an independent film but will also please fans of the original.
Overall, this movie would probably do very well if shown in a group setting and its self-awareness and care for the universe it created serve as the primary reasons for the fun it creates. Not too many slasher movies go for this angle, but Happy Death Day 2U’s ability to understand why people enjoy it allow it to deviate from the norm without every distracting us from the film’s intention. After a string of some duds in the last few years, Blumhouse has hit a hot streak as of late and I hope they can keep the momentum going, but only time will tell.
Overall Score: 7/10