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Happy Death Day 2U - Movie Review

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Happy Death Day 2U

Beware! The Baby Mask Killer is back.

If 2017’s surprise time-loop slasher Happy Death Day was rightfully called a mash-up of Groundhog Day and Scream, then its follow-up, Happy Death Day 2U can be called a strange combination of Weird Science, The Butterfly Effect, and any episode of Scooby-Doo.

Happy Death Day 2U relies less heavily on horror and smart humor and instead leans into goofy science-fiction territory with a time traveling sub-plot that is used to explain those strange time loops Tree (Jessica Rothe) was experiencing while at college in the first movie.

"a strange combination of Weird Science, The Butterfly Effect, and any episode of Scooby-Doo"

Though not totally successful with what he is trying to do, there’s something to be said for director/writer Christopher Landon (he takes over this time from Scott Lobdell) who pushes boundaries and moves Tree’s story into a different genre within what we will call the Happy Death Day canon. The emotional scope is much bigger this time around, and though they don’t always work, the themes and emotions explored are definitely more interesting.

Happy Death Day 2U picks up as a continuation of the first film except instead of Tree experiencing the same day over and over, this time it is a bit player from the first one, Ryan (Phi Vu), the clueless roommate of Tree’s boyfriend who is being stalked and murdered over and over again on campus by the baby-faced killer. A new time loop begins.

Now armed with the knowledge that her time loop curse wasn’t broken when she killed the murderer in the first installment, Tree steps up and soon discovers that those unexplained power outages in the first film are actually being caused by Ryan and his fellow aspiring engineers (Suraj Sharma, Life of Pi, and Sarah Yarkin, American Horror Story) who are working on some kind of quantum cooling reactor device they call SISSY that has inadvertently brought havoc to every dimension of reality.

Could the outages and the weird reactor have something to do with the time loop? Tree is on the case to find out. But there’s a problem. Her investigation uncovers the fact that she is stuck in some kind of alternate parallel universe. And things go from bad to worse when she begins experiencing that deadly birthday loop … again. The horror!

As someone who wasn’t particularly keen on the first film and didn’t totally buy into many of the things it tried to do, I must admit that, though not enough to overcome the film’s many execution misfires, the genre switch with Happy Death Day 2U is a much-appreciated twist on the whole concept and goes a long way towards making the entire experience, at the very least, more watchable this time around. But is that enough?Happy Death Day 2U

Briskly paced, and with a runtime at just over an hour and a half, Happy Death Day 2U, like its predecessor, never overstays its welcome. And whereas the first film explored such heady topics as learning to be kind, becoming a better person, and, oh yeah, stopping a murderous spree, Happy Death Day 2U also takes on similarly important themes. But they are less clear and aren’t quite resolved with the same amount of gusto. Something about choosing between your past and your future? Learning to put others first? Maybe? Tree can stay in her alternate dimension where she can be with her late mother (Missy Yager), but if she takes that path, there’s a good chance she will lose her boyfriend, Carter (Israel Broussard).

Happy Death Day 2U plays out as teen-driven comedy more than it does horror. In fact, can we even call this a horror movie? Despite one particular sequence that features some pretty gruesome suicides – think wood chippers, drain cleaner, and bathtub electrocutions, the film is more funny than it is scary. Though most of the jokes don’t land, there are enough self-referential nods thrown about that some are bound to stick. And some do. But most are just plain silly. All genre classifications aside, though better than the original, there’s simply not enough here to break this franchise from its loop of mediocrity.

2 stars

Happy Death Day 2U

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, language, sexual material and thematic elements.
110 mins
: Christopher Landon
Christopher Landon
Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu
: Horror | Comedy
Death makes a killer comeback.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You really think I was going to let some little whore break up my marriage."
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
February 13, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: Jessica Rothe leads the returning cast of Happy Death Day 2U, the follow-up to Blumhouse’s (Split, Get Out, The Purge series) surprise 2017 smash hit of riveting, repeating twists and comic turns. This time, our hero Tree (Rothe) discovers that dying over and over was surprisingly easier than the dangers that lie ahead.

Happy Death Day 2U


Blu-ray Details:

No details available.

Happy Death Day 2U

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