FlixChatter Review: Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

guestpost

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? 

FlixChatter Review – Truth or Dare (2018)

guestpost

Directed By: Jeff Wadlow
Written By: Jillian Jacobs, Michael Reisz, Christopher Roach, Jeff Wadlow
Runtime: 1h 40min

When I first saw the preview for Truth or Dare, I thought it looked pretty stupid, but I did my best to keep an open mind going into the screening. I’ve been surprised before by horror movies that ended up being better than I expected, like Ouija: Origin of Evil and Annabelle: Creation. Plus, it’s from Blumhouse Productions, a company that specializes in horror movies, including the Oscar-winning Get Out. Maybe there was hope for this cheesy-looking teen horror film. Spoiler: there was not.

In Truth or Dare, a group of college students (Lucy Hale as Olivia, Tyler Posey as Lucas, Violett Beane as Markie, Sophia Ali as Penelope, Nolan Gerard Funk as Tyson, Hayden Szeto as Brad, and Sam Lerner as Ronnie) go to Mexico for spring break, where they join a stranger from a bar, Carter (Landon Liboiron) to an abandoned church, where they play the movie’s titular game. What seems like an innocent activity is something much more sinister that follows them home and forces them to continue playing, answering heartbreaking truths and performing life-threatening dares. If they refuse to play, they die.

The idea of a horror movie centered around truth or dare isn’t awful. If they had kept most of the action in one location-namely, the abandoned church- it could have felt more claustrophobic and tense, and it would have given them more time to develop the characters and make the stakes feel higher. However, this movie feels more like a lazy CW or MTV teen melodrama with demonic possession sprinkled in. The characters range from painfully bland to irredeemably unlikeable. If they were just going to make another horror movie where a bunch of teens are killed off (and there have been so many over the past few decades), they should have done something new with it-like maybe don’t kill off the few queer or POC characters in the film, or develop the characters better so there’s some emotional impact when they die.

I could almost forgive the boring “teens die one by one” storyline if the movie was at least consistently scary, but it really isn’t. The majority of the film is taken up by cheap jump scares. To be fair, there are a few genuinely suspenseful moments; there’s one longer scene that is really well done where an extremely drunk Penelope (Sophia Ali) is dared to walk around the edge of a roof until she finishes drinking the bottle of vodka in her hand, and there’s some buildup to an actually good jump scare involving Brad (Hayden Szeto) and a corpse in a hospital. However, scenes like this are few and far between, and they’re mostly buried in bad dialogue and cheap jump scares.

The worst part, though, was the face. Oh, God, the face. Whenever anyone is possessed by the demon forcing the students to play the game, that person’s face is contorted into this wide, warped smile that I assume is supposed to be creepy and unsettling, but it’s just hilarious. All I could think was that it looks like the troll face meme.

IT’S SO STUPID. One of the characters mentions the face looks like a bad SnapChat filter. ACKNOWLEDGING IT DOESN’T EXCUSE IT FROM BEING BAD, YOU GUYS. Come on, Blumhouse! I know you can do better! I’ve seen movies you’ve produced with truly chilling special effects! This just looks like when we all discovered you could add goofy filters to your Mac Book webcam ten years ago.
f you’re very easily scared and are bored, maybe catch this once it’s on Netflix, but don’t waste your time or money on seeing it in theaters.

laura_review


Have you seen ‘Truth or Dare’? Well, what did you think?