Review by Vitali Gueron
One of my favorite comedic slasher movies came out in mid-October 2017. Happy Death Day, from Blumhouse Productions and directed by Christopher Landon, was a breakout hit that year and earned big bucks (over $100 million) for the studio when it only cost less than $5 million to make. Flixchatter’s own Laura Schaubschlager reviewed Happy Death Day when it came out. She had just seen some other fresh horror movies and was ready to be thoroughly disappointed. In her review, Laura said that “…despite its problems, Happy Death Day is a surprisingly fun movie, although if you’re looking for a more typical horror movie, you might want to skip it.” She gave it 3 out of 5 stars and said that it didn’t disappoint her. When I learned that they were planning on making a sequel, I wasn’t at all surprised based on its box office success and relatively positive critical reviews.
The sequel, titled Happy Death Day 2U, stars the same set of actors as the original. In the leading roles we have Jessica Rothe as sorority girl Tree, and Israel Broussard as her nerdy classmate Carter. As we remember in Happy Death Day, Tree wakes up in Carter’s dorm room on her birthday, and he tells her that he brought her to his own room because she had passed out from drunken partying the previous evening and could not make it back to her sorority house. Carter’s roommate Ryan (played by Phi Vu) interrupts them as Tree is getting dressed and she runs out of the dorm to make her way back to the sorority house. On her way she encounters several strangers and acquaintances, all in a sequential order, before she makes enters her sorority house and meets up with her housemate Lori. She eventually ends up being lured into a campus overpass tunnel and there she is murdered by a figure shadowy figure wearing the school mascot’s creepy baby mask. (More on that later….) She wakes up in Carter’s room, only to discover that the previous day’s events are repeating themselves.
The start of Happy Death Day 2U is a bit like the start of the first movie, but unlike its predecessor, the movie starts with Carter’s roommate Ryan sleeping in a van parked down the street from his dorm room. We soon discover that it’s the day after the events in Happy Death Day, and Tree and Carter are back together after spending the entire previous day fending off Tree’s would-be killer. Ryan goes to his lab where he meets up with fellow science students Samar and Dre (newcomers Suraj Sharma and Sarah Yarkin) who are working on their experimental quantum reactor. (Cue Back to the Future music with Doc Brown and Marty McFly powering up the DeLorean time machine)
What follows is less of a comedic slasher movie but more of a sci-fi/thriller with less killing and more comedy. We are introduced to the University’s Dean Bronson (hilariously played by Steve Zissis), and Tree’s mother Julie (Missy Yager) as the movie takes us in Tree’s alternate dimension where her mother is alive but her new boyfriend Carter is dating her sorority sister Danielle Bouseman (Rachel Matthews) instead of Tree. She then must choose whether she wants Ryan, Samar and Dre to configure the experimental quantum reactor with the correct algorithm to stay in the current dimension or go back to the previous one. Because of the time loop she has once again found herself in, she has to die several times (again being chased by the killer in a creepy baby mask) in order to help the group find the correct algorithm.
The ending of Happy Death Day 2U is not as surprising as you might think, and easily sets up for another sequel, banking on this one being another big box office success with it only costing $9 million to make. In fact, there is a mid-credits scene where a government official from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) whisks Tree, Carter, Ryan, Samar and Dre away for what can only be considered the start of the third movie. While Happy Death Day 2U does not have the same originality or horror elements that the original had, there are other things that it does do well. They use the new characters well, especially Dean Bronson and Danielle Bouseman. The scene where Danielle distracts Bronson while Tree and the others successfully recover the reactor that the confiscated is hilarious and well written.
Overall, the sequel to Happy Death Day is more predictable than the first but also more comedic at the same time. I’ve even grown to enjoy the school mascot’s creepy baby mask…well maybe I shouldn’t go that far. I am looking forward to what Happy Death Day 3 (or whatever they end up calling it) brings to the table and how it (hopefully) concludes the story.
Have you seen Happy Death Day 2U? Well, what did you think?