Movie Review: Happy Death Day 2U
Happy Death Day 2U is the sequel we didn’t need to the PG-13 slasher movie we didn’t think was going to be that great but was unexpectedly fun. In my review of the original, I compared it to grocery store birthday sheet cake in terms of its simplicity but also satisfying nature.
Unfortunately the sequel is not as good, as if the birthday cake, missing several large chunks decided to fill them in with extra frosting and sprinkles, turning it into an overly sugary mess rather than a satisfying treat. The original worked because it was in many ways just an homage to so many films before it: Groundhog Day, Vertigo, and too many slasher movies to name. But at its heart it was a mystery, and we were invested in the characters, especially our protagonist Tree (Jessica Rothe), her growth, and finding out who her killer was.
The original conceit of living the same day over and over again was fun, but the sequel takes a bit of the mystery and charm out of it by trying to explain it through science! in order to set up a literal deus ex machina ending to fix things at the end. It also sets up and inevitable third chapter, so stick around to midway through the credits for a stinger giving you an idea of what’s coming next.
Perhaps the best thing about the original was how we rooted for the protagonist tree. She started off as a horrible garbage person and bit by bit became better until we began rooting for her instead of rooting for her to be viciously murdered because we hated her. It was a story about redemption, and you just can’t put that genie back in the bottle.
Instead we get some interesting musings about what life might be like in alternative universes his choices were made differently and circumstances were different how our lives might turn out. It’s nice, but not as interesting as the first time around.
Also gone was some of the layers of social commentary that Blumhouse is often able to put in to their horror films. While the first Happy Death Day had some things to say about college life and rape culture, this film seems to care more about just going through the motions of the sequel.
While it loses most of the charm and novelty of the first film, Rothe is still incredibly fun and engaging to watch. The rest of the cast. . . are less so.
Still, you could do far worse with a horror sequel, especially in the PG-13 rating. Fans of the original will come back for a second helping even if it is diminishing returns on the first slice of birthday cake. Let’s hope they can bring us something better in a third installment.
2 out of 5 stars