When “Happy Death Day” opened at number 1 in the fall of 2017, moviegoers were thrilled by the idea of a heroine who had the chance to make the most of the last day of her life – reliving over and over in a 24-hour period that led up to her murder. Needing no one’s permission to turn the tables on her tormentor, Tree (Jessica Rothe) stalked and hunted her killer into submission. The film up’d-the-ante among the horror genre, and audiences went crazy for the delightfully twisted tale. It was new. It was hip. It made a lot of money. So, inevitability extends its arm, opens its hand, and sequel-slaps the shit out of us!
Stating the obvious, as one would imagine, a “butterfly effect” usually causes a bit of disarray when looking to reshape things, right? Hence… “Happy Death Day 2U!” No sooner has Tree said adios to the endless loop of death and begun a promising new relationship with Carter (Israel Broussard), she begins to realize that solving the puzzle of her bizarre murder has had unintended consequences on a scale that will send shockwaves through the multiverse. Alongside Carter and his roommate Ryan (Phi Vu) – who opens on déjà vus of his own and involved more than they know – the trio sets out on a looping journey to get to the real source of time-jumps and fix it.
In a nutshell, it’s more of the same in a different way (if that makes any sense). Taking off where the first ended, “Happy Death Day 2U” finds its footing by adding a bit more as it ties in supporting players who find themselves tangled in the same web as Tree. However, unlike its first movie (which was a bit silly in its own way), “2U” comes off more like a comedy/sci-fi than it does horror. It spins its Groundhog Day, hamster-wheel appeal again with another mind-boggling cat-and-mouse chase of who-done-it (and why)? Fun cast, fun premise, fun loopy layout… Good thing this movie doesn’t aim at taking itself seriously. It knows what it is, and what it’s providing, and who it’s providing it for. I’m not a maniacal fan of this (now obvious franchise), but I respect what it does. It has its moments of chaotic charm – and that’s part of the fun. Jessica Rothe’s back leading the movie’s returning cast and that’s a good thing. She’s got her knack for this piece, and her character meshes well with the movie’s supporting band of misfit characters.
The only cringing moment (for me) had to be a segment within the second act that spoofs suicide a bit. It doesn’t mock it. Within the context of the story it makes sense why it’s done, and I’m not offended by it at all, but I can see this being a bit of a low-blow angle for individuals watching who may have known someone who took their own life. I do. While it played, I was a bit “WTF?!” about it, but I was able to shake it off. Again, it was fitting for the storyline. Chances are I may be the only one who spotted it, or felt moved by it to an extent. Then again… maybe not! That was the only sad standout for me. Everything else flowed as it promotes itself to. In the end, “Happy Death Day 2U” is a bundle of brouhaha I don’t think I’ll revisit. However, it has its fan-base and that’s who this is for, and that’s who will be going out to support this title opening weekend. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a third one in two years.
Grade: C+ | Genre: Thriller, “Horror,” Comedy | Rated: PG-13 | Run Time: 100 Minute
Starring; Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Suraj Sharma, Steve Zissis, Phi Vu
Directed by: Christopher Landon