HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U REVIEW
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, and Phi Vu
Directed By: Christopher Landon (Happy Death Day)
Runtime: 1 hour 40 minutes
The surprise horror hit from 2017, “Happy Death Day” was essentially Groundhog Day.Remember the Bill Murray movie from 1993?He kept reliving the same day over and over again until he became a better person. Happy Death Day runs a similar plot. Sorority Girl keeps reliving the same day over and over until she figures out who her murderer is. It was driven by the charisma of its star Jessica Rothe. The movie was funny, just scary enough, and rated PG-13, so it opened itself up to a much wider audience than an R rated film.
The original grossed 26 million opening weekend. That was already five times its budget.It went on to make over 125 million dollars worldwide.A sequel was inevitable. Even if it is a terrible idea.It shouldn’t have worked the first time, but it did. You got lucky! Don’t tempt fate. You have two options for a sequel. Make the exact same movie again, with a different character being killed repeatedly. OR, spoof a different movie besides Groundhog Day. It seems they chose the latter.Which is a more noble choice. I’ll give them that. But I don’t think it worked.
Happy Death Day 2U takes on time travel movies with this outing. Specifically Back to the Future 2, where running into your alternate self is a real possibility. The movie is smart enough to know what it’s mimicking and point it out about as quickly as the audience will. There are several different timelines in Happy Death Day 2U. A science experiment gone wrong by one of our core cast members.
The movie is still carried on the back of Jessica Rothe. She gets to shine again as Tree, the sorority sister who is trying to be a better person and date the boy who saved her in the first movie. Rothe is cute, bubbly, and can do anything you ask of her.Comedy, horror, action, drama. She runs the gamut in this one.I’d expect big things from her after this series runs its course.
This sequel is a victim of diminishing returns.It isn’t as clever as the original. I’m not entirely sure if that’s because we saw a better version of this movie already. Or if the writing just isn’t as sharp as the first film. Happy Death Day 2U barely attempts to be scary, which is a bold choice for the sequel of a horror movie. You’re sort of disenfranchising your target audience who are clamoring for more of the original story. It takes its typical murder mystery twists and turns, giving you plenty of red herrings along the way.It holds your interest. It’s entertaining enough to be watchable. But the final scenes will definitely test your patience and tolerance. I read one review that called the final getaway scene something you’d see on a Disney Channel Original Movie. I can’t word it any better myself, so I’m stealing it.
The supporting cast from movie one get to do a little more, we introduce a few extra characters that mostly work. Happy Death Day 2U isn’t the movie I asked for. I get the way the business side of movies works, Happy Death Day was a surprise mega-hit. You’re cashing in. I want to see the alternate version of this movie, which just copied the first movie. I’ll never get it, but I’m interested if my suspicion about that being a better and safer option is right. But again, bonus points for doing something different. That had to be the center of many discussions during the writing process.It sets itself up for a third installment. Which WILL happen. Happy Death Day 2U made its 9 million dollar budget back this weekend, albeit barely.Chapter Three will likely spoof a third genre. Here’s hoping it has one more trick up its sleeve.
On a scale of "See It/Stream It/Skip It" I'm voting Stream It, all the way!
If you liked Happy Death Day, Back to the Future 2, or Groundhog Day you might like Happy Death Day 2U
2 out of 5 stars for Happy Death Day 2U. Not nearly as fun as the first.Not as clever. Certainly worth watching for fans of the first, but there isn’t much here to praise.