For our earlier review of Happy Death Day 2U, click here.
Synopsis: Jessica Rothe leads the returning cast of HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U , the follow-up to Blumhouse’s surprise 2017 smash hit of riveting, repeating twists and comic turns. This time, our hero Tree Gelbman discovers that dying over and over was surprisingly easier than the dangers that lie ahead. (Universal Pictures)
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, and Phi Vu
Writer: Christopher Landon
Director: Christopher Landon
Rating: 14A (Canada)/PG-13 (United States)
Running Time: 100mins
The original Happy Death Day came onto the scene with what was a ridiculous premise on paper that somehow worked (although some may think otherwise) and was a blast to watch while not taking itself overly seriously. While it didn’t seem like a sequel would even be necessary, here comes Happy Death Day 2U. Now what can the filmmakers do this time around? The answer seems to be the same thing and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. This sequel took that same ridiculous premise in an admittedly even more ridiculous direction that may not work with some viewers (including our original reviewer) but in reality gives the franchise some new life.
This film would reveal the ridiculous cause of the time loops early on but the plot would becomes less about this and more about the new predicament that Tree (Rothe) would find herself in. After a freak incident, she would find herself in an alternate dimension where she would have to again relive her birthday over and over again as she would once again be the target of a baby-masked killer. Though unlike the first film, it is clear that this film was more than that as the day in question in this dimension would be far different than the one she remembered. The day would not be the only thing that would be different.
While being trapped within the same time loop, Tree would have to reconcile with this new dimension and use her previous experience in order to solve this new mystery. However, this time she wasn’t alone as she would also have her boyfriend Carter (Broussard) and his friend Ryan (Vu) among others by her side. This was still Tree’s show though the wider net would be more entertaining to watch as the plot would lean more towards dark comedy and drama to break up the horror and thriller elements. Maybe these make this film feel like a completely different film that may not seem like a sequel to Happy Death Day but they worked more often than not.
Watching the more experienced Tree navigate her new predicament was fun to watch as the film’s new direction allowed for more creativity in terms of Tree’s many deaths in order to advance the plot. She would also have to make some tough choices along the way. The plot would arguably become even sillier as it got closer to the end but this was easy to overlook. While this film seemed unlikely after watching the original, this franchise may not be over yet based on an even sillier post credits scene that took the premise in a much different direction.
Ultimately, none of the film would have worked if not for Rothe’s superb performance as Tree. She brought so much energy to her performance that she was simply dynamite to watch. She would also show plenty of range here throughout, tackling it’s mashup of genres with ease. She single-handedly kept the film from falling off the rails. Meanwhile, the film’s supporting performances from Broussard and Vu as Carter and Ryan respectively among others were all solid with Broussard and Vu excelling in increased roles.
Overall, while not quite as big of a surprise as the original, Happy Death Day 2U is fortunately or not more of the same while taking the original’s premise in an admittedly sillier direction that will surely divide viewers, making this film feel completely different than the original. However, the film somehow still works, never quite falling off the rails, thanks to some hilarious dark comedy and compelling sentimentality all anchored by a superb lead performance by Jessica Rothe.