Happy Death Day 2 U is the sequel to 2017 breakout horror film Happy Death Day. The follow-up is again directed by Christopher Landon (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse) with the screenplay written by Landon, taking over from writer Scott Lobdell. The film is produced by horror juggernaut Blumhouse Productions.
Blumhouse has brought us horror greats such as Insidious, Creep, Upgrade, and Get Out. With the model of producing low budget, creator based horror films, Blumhouse has been able to give horror fans some of the most surprising films in recent years. The original Happy Death Day was a great spin on the slasher genre. The film was the perfect mixture of Groundhog Day meets 80’s slasher.
Happy Death Day was a box office and critical success, grossing $26 million it’s opening weekend. Happy Death Day 2 U opened this past weekend with a under-performing $9 million. The sequel takes the same concept as the first film and adds a science fiction spin to it. Does the heart of the original carry over, or does this film fall into the same traps as most sequels?
Happy Death Day 2 U – Synopsis
College student Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) has survived her birthday paradox of dying over and over until she solved the mystery of her killer. Using this paradox to better herself and overcome her mother’s death, Tree now is ready to move on with her now boyfriend Carter (Israel Broussard). Carter’s roommate Ryan (Phil Vu) wakes up the next morning and everything seems usual on campus. He joins his friends to work on their thesis, a quantum reactor.
Their project is shut down by the Dean of Students Mr. Bronson. His friend’s ditch him as soon as Bronson shows up, not wanting to risk getting expelled. The project caused several power outages around the city (including those in the last film) and is deemed unsafe by Bronson. Ryan is soon stalked and killed by a new babyface killer. He wakes up the same morning, reliving the day once again. He explains to Carter and Tree that he is suffering from deja vu. Tree’s paradox loop has now passed on to Ryan.
The trio catch the babyface killer revealing him to be Ryan from an alternate reality. The other Ryan is sent back to kill this realities Ryan to close the time warp that they create. The loop from the day before continues as Dean Bronson enters the lab to remove the quantum reactor. Ryan fires up the machine before it can be unplugged causes the loop to start from anew.
Tree wakes up on her birthday, reliving her nightmare of that day once again. Only a few things are different in this reality. Tree now must convince Ryan to help rebuild the reactor to send her back to her original reality. But, once again their is a babyface killer out to get Tree. Only this time the killer is not who she expects.
Happy Death Day 2 U – What I Liked
Jessice Rothe continues to be the highlight of the Happy Death Day series. She brings unparalleled energy to the role of Tree, and commits 100% to every scene given to her. She nails each scene she is in, whether that be comedy, action, or the dramatic scenes. The character unfortunately goes through the same arc as the original film, but that takes nothing away from the performance she gives.
The biggest positive that this film has going for it is the scenarios that are laid out in front of Tree due to the alternate reality. She now has to deal with certain aspects of her life that had not been present in her original reality. Rothe plays Tree’s reactions to these revelations to a tee. The dramatic moments of the film made you care for her character and really pulled at the heartstrings.
Happy Death Day 2 U – What Could Have Been Improved
This sequel suffers from what many sequels suffer from. The film relies to heavily on trying to outdo the original film. The first film is a fun play on the slasher genre, but the sequel drops the slasher sub-genre almost entirely. For a good hour of Happy Death Day 2 U the babyface killer isn’t mentioned or shown at all. The killer reveal in the third act felt tact on to the film that was being presented. It was only in the film because the first film had a big twist reveal.
Happy Death Day 2 U sheds nearly all the horror for more comedy in the sequel. Although a few of the jokes landed, most of them missed the mark entirely. The jokes felt like something you could expect from an awkward teen comedy. The jokes created such a tonal shift from the great dramatic moments this film had. Each dramatic scene is followed up by goofy character interactions or a cheesy pop song montage.
This leads me to my biggest negative for Happy Death Day 2 U, the characters. The strongest aspect of the original film was the character and performance of Tree. Everything great with that character is still present here, but everything surrounding her pails in comparison. Conner is the generic nice guy boyfriend, with no character development or backstory. He is simply in the story for Tree to fall in love with and be the nice guy that she needs.
The character of Ryan is portrayed as a scientific genius, something never set up in the first film. He never once shows that he is anymore than an average college student. The friend group of his is also given nothing to do that would make them actual characters. One is a sort of a pervert (never given more than a few jokes) and the other is just a girl. That’s it. Dean Bronson is a walking, talking cartoon villain. He might as well have the sound of squeaking shoes follow his every step because he is nothing but a buffoon. Never once did I believe he was an actual character.
Happy Death Day 2 U – Final Thoughts
It is a shame that this film does such a disservice to a great final girl in Tree. Jessica Rothe has now cemented this character among the best final girls of all time. Rothe brings heart and charm to the character that is unmatched compared to everything else in the film. It is unfortunate that neither the film nor the other characters can even come close to how great this character is. Happy Death Day 2 U might appeal to mass audiences who enjoyed the first flick, but to hardcore horror fans this film is a hard pass.
Overall Score 2/5