February 12, 2019 Happy Death Day 2U (Movie Review)
Sequels do not often live up to their original. The Horror genre especially is home to far too many sequels trying to chase success and build franchises off one successful film. However, not all are created equal, and not all should be immediately discredited. On Wednesday, February 13th, audiences worldwide will be able to catch Happy Death Day 2U in theaters thanks to Universal Pictures. Following the unexpected critical acclaim and success of 2017’s Happy Death Day, Director and Writer Christopher Landon (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones 2014, Happy Death Day 2017) turns the original film on its head in this surprising, touching, and hilarious sequel.
Once again starring Jessica Rothe (La La Land 2016, Happy Death Day 2017) and Israel Brouchard (Happy Death Day 2017, Extinction 2018) as Tree and Carter, Happy Death Day 2U sees these characters yet again caught in a time loop and stalked by a mysterious killer in a baby mask. For those who have yet to see the original, Happy Death Day is essentially 1993’s Groundhog Day with a killer twist.
If you have already seen Happy Death Day, this plot may sound familiar, but for those worried that this sequel is nothing but a simple re-hash of the original: fear not. This time, audiences will get an in-depth look into the science and theories behind why Tree was caught in this loop, essentially making Happy Death Day 2U a Science-Fiction/Thriller movie. This change keeps the plot feeling fresh and surprising, even when reliving the same day.
Just when you thought Tree was out of the woods for good and achieved full character growth, she finds herself once again waking up in Carter’s dorm room to the now-infamous birthday ringtone. This time, though, everything is different: Carter is dating her friend/enemy Danielle, a lost family member is alive, and Tree is now an anomaly caught between universes. With the help of some old and new allies, Tree takes death into her own hands and refuses to let her fate be determined by some baby-masked killer.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this film is its incredible cast of fresh young actors. Rothe especially carries the film as Tree, a character who is the antithesis of what one would expect the female lead in a Horror movie to be. She is a courageous, brash, whip-smart lead with a vulnerable side who must put herself into some of the most horrific situations in order to save herself and those she loves. Her character growth keeps the film engaging, and is perfectly balanced with some well-placed Comedy, Mystery, and Science-Fiction.
This film manages to feel fresh and surprising thanks to the constant twists and turns. A plot revolving around the same day dozens of times—especially the same day for two films—should feel predictable and stale, and yet the story takes a number of unexpected turns that are sure to keep audiences entertained from start to finish. Happy Death Day left a lot of questions to be answered, and Happy Death Day 2U seeks to answer them with a deep dive into quantum theory and multiverses. It may sound like a lot, but this film keeps the same character, humor, and charm that made the original better than it had any right to be.
If you have not seen Happy Death Day, it is highly recommended to see it first. Without it, you will find yourself missing out on important references and story beats. Also, be sure to stay beyond the credits for a special scene that sets up for a potential third movie. It is pretty impressive that Landon and Blumhouse Productions managed to take a similar plot, push it into an entirely new genre, and keep it feeling fresh. Backed by an amazing cast, a killer soundtrack, and some smart storytelling, Happy Death Day 2U is a promising sequel that continues a totally unique Horror franchise. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives this film 4.5 out of 5 stars.