When Blumhouse’s Happy Death Day hit theaters two weeks before Halloween in 2017, I didn’t know what to expect from it. I saw it as a slasher version of Bill Murray’s 1993 comedy classic Groundhog Day – minus Bill Murray, of course. What it did have though was a new actress, Jessica Rothe, who put in a starmaking performance. So what could they do for a follow-up with their spin on horror-film final girl trope?
(This review is Spoiler-Free)
Happy Death Day 2 U picks up after the events of the first film and again features Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) finding herself reliving the same day repeatedly after being hunted and killed by a new masked Babyface assailant, only now her friends are targets as well.
As the film really gets going after the first surprise death, Tree finds out Ryan (Phi Vu), the roommate of her semi-boyfriend, Carter (Israel Broussard), is responsible for the blackouts in the first film. Ryan’s experiments with his Real Science friends can cause more than just a blackout and plays an important part in the film. From there, those twists and unexpected surprises does add a new flavor.
Happy Death Day was clever and fresh enough to make you feel like you didn’t waste your money going to see it – and the sequel does the same. Knowing the premise of the first movie and what worked, writer-director Christopher Landon serves that up once again but builds on the formula along with the sugary excitement of humor into the recipe. The positive and negative of the film is the baked-in repetitiveness. Positive: You understand that’s what worked in the first film and in the sequel, you can get creative. Negative: it’s the same old, same old. It seems to become more of a parody of itself at times and go for low-hanging fruit humor rather than adding in more jumps and scares.
The heart of this movie remains Jessica Rothe, who shows that she should be looked at more seriously for other roles in Hollywood. While it wasn’t a big character evolution, Jessica’s portrayal of Tree showed the growth based on the lessons learned in the first movie and still having room to grow. While it wasn’t a fresh as the original film, fans of the original (like yours truly) will find this Happy Death Day 2 U is worth making a trip to the theaters for.
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