Happy Death Day 2U
Aida Vucic | 18/02/2019
For a film based on the repetition of a single day, it seems ironic that there’d be a sequel. Yet not even two years since the release of Happy Death Day, and a sequel is at our doors. While the original Happy Death Day felt like a fresh take on Groundhog Day, with a horror element added for kicks, its sequel doesn’t have quite the same charm.
The film opens with Ryan (Phi Vu), Carter’s (Israel Broussard) roommate who we were briefly introduced into the original. This time it’s Ryan who is seemingly being hunted by a murderer who wears the University mascots mask, which oddly enough is a baby mask. Tree (Jessica Rothe), who is all too familiar with being murdered, having died in the original film 11 times, quickly jumps to Ryan’s aid and in their exploration for answers determines that it is Ryan’s science project which has created a time loop. In their effort to rectify the problem, they inadvertently create a parallel universe and the story turns back into the Tree show. Although this parallel universe is not all too different from her universe, there are two key differences; Ryan and Danielle (Rachel Matthews) are together (a combination which is only too disturbing for Tree) and Tree’s mum’s alive. But the baby mask killer is still on loose and Tree inevitably dies at the end of each day. Eager to stay in this parallel universe, with her resurrected mother, Tree works with Ryan as well as Samar and Andrea (Ryan’s fellow classmates) to close the loophole, in an constantly battling with the idea of giving up her old life and her relationship with Carter in return for staying in this new universe where her mother is alive.
It’s difficult to feel fresh, when the film literally chronicles the previous film within the first 20 minutes. Nevertheless, Happy Death Day 2U manages to keep the same fast paced momentum that made the first film so enjoyable. This includes an entertaining montage of Tree killing herself in unique and funny ways. There are other things to enjoy here too, not least of which the ability to lose yourself in what feels like a deep well of familiarity. The redeeming element of the film is of course is Rothe’s performance, who was a knockout in the original and though the material is not quite to the same calibre as the original, this doesn’t stop Rothe from giving her all and even stretching herself to provide an emotional performance. The inclusion of Suraj Sharma and Sarah Yarkin in this eclectic cast is interesting and a great tip to the more diversified cast that audiences have been requesting and Hollywood is responding to.
Despite this, the convoluted plot, paired with a distinct lack of horror, makes for a somewhat haphazard sequel. The scares simply aren’t there, and when the movie tries to return to its somewhat horror roots, it relies too heavily on jump scares. By adding this ridiculous parallel dimension and time loop aspect, the movie just uproots itself and becomes entangled in its own complex web. Very few, if any, movies have managed to simplify a multiverse theory down into something tangible for everyday audiences, and if you, for some insane reason, thought Happy Death Day 2U was going to be the one to do it you are sorely mistaken.
Most condemningly, however, is the audible groan that goes through the audience when Tree awakens in her same time loop. It’s the groan of an audience realising this isn’t a new and original idea; it's a bastardised version of the same movie from two years ago, shot and released as a fast cash grab.
Happy Death Day 2U regrettably turns an innovative concept into a film which feels tired, worn out, and trying desperately to be even a shadow of its former self.