Happy Death Day 2U review: Get ready to get stuck in another time-loop as Tree (Jessica Rothe) returns for another disastrous Birthday in Blumhouse sequel, Happy Death Day 2U.
Let’s face it, Blumhouse have the cinematic monopoly on horror films. It’s rare these days that a high-grossing genre film isn’t associated with the company. Their mantra seems to be ‘take a new spin on something that has been seen before, make it for peanuts, earn millions off of it’. 2017’s Happy Death Day followed this pattern perfectly and now returns with sequel, Happy Death Day 2U.
Last time we saw Tree (Jessica Rothe) she had finally escaped the nightmarish time-loop she had become trapped in. She had unmasked her killer, reconciled with her father, and had a budding romance in the works. Sadly for Tree, she now finds herself trapped again, but this time she has some company in her time glitch.
The first film was an enjoyable romp that played with genre conventions and, although essentially a slasher version of Groundhog Day, it was a lot of fun to watch. The idea didn’t really seem to have that much scope for more films so it was slightly surprising when Happy Death Day 2U was announced. Granted, it makes good business sense and logic to develop a follow-up, but it only really works if the concept is just as fresh. Rather than follow in a Final Destination way, wherein it’s a different person that finds themselves living on repeat, Happy Death Day 2U reunites all the original characters. It’s a bold decision from director Christopher Landon whom took hold of the reins from original scribe Scott Lobdell. There’s a rather convoluted plot device that enables this return, but it works within the world of the story.
Happy Death Day had plenty of nice comedy moments, but didn’t dwell on them for too long. The result was a nicely balanced film that offered plenty of scares, with a smattering of light relief. Happy Death Day 2U shifts tact and embraces its humorous side, almost to the point of revelling in it. It becomes distracting at times, but will play well in packed multiplexes. There’s also a distinctly more science-fiction tone to the whole piece. The sequel forgoes the slasher element of the story almost entirely, the murder mystery element almost shoe-horned in as an afterthought in the final act.
Shifting so far from the original’s horror roots might alienate some audience members, but it’s not all bad as we still have Tree as our guide. Jessica Rothe once again rescues the film from falling into DTV silliness. Her portrayal of Tree is full of self depreciation, bravado, and most importantly, heart. Once again, she manages to completely win viewers over, and you may even shed a tear or two as this time she has some tough and emotional decisions to make.
Happy Death Day 2U outmanoeuvres the first film in every way. It’s bigger, bolder, and even more bat crap crazy. If the first one hurt your head, you might want to take an aspirin before viewing this one. The mid credit sequence (everything needs a mid credit sting these days) also points to an even more insane potential third film; one so out there that it could make the Sharknado films blush.
Despite its successes, Happy Death Day 2U unfortunately doesn’t quite capture that same spark the first one had. The original obviously had the advantage of being a fresh idea where here we’re working within the same construct. It is however a lot of fun. Popcorn thrills that blend Groundhog Day, Scream and Rick and Morty into a pleasurable, if not wholly satisfying, hundred minutes.
Happy Death Day 2U review by Kat Hughes, Febuary 2019.
Happy Death Day 2U is released in cinemas on 13th February 2019.