Happy Death Day 2U
Christopher Landon's Happy Death Day 2U is an effective sequel, capitalizing on what worked so well in the first film, its characters and blend of humor and horror, to deliver a worthy successor that leans heavier on the sci-fi side. Jessica Rothe is absolutely magnetic as the lead, while the rest of the cast helps round out what is mostly a fun and memorable film.
Christopher Landon surprised many with his 2017 hit Happy Death Day, a film that presented itself as a unique blend of horror and comedy as Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) was forced to relive the same day over and over, in hopes of identifying who kills at at the end of each night. Happy Death Day was fresh and innovative, catapulting star Jessica Rothe as the standout of the film, while also highlighting Landon’s ability to both write and direct a horror film that had a lot of humor and creativity.
Happy Death Day 2U isn’t just a simple retread of what worked well before, but instead a furthering of the story in a way that takes many risks and chances to ensure a viewing that’s just as engaging as the first film, if not a bit more fun.
This time around, the film starts with Ryan (Phi Vu) reliving the same day once before, only to have died at the end of the night. Ryan is Carter’s (Israel Broussard) roommate and best friend — Tree kept waking up at their place during her never-ending time loop of murder and death.
Once Tree notices that Ryan is experiencing the same form of deja vu, she kicks things into overdrive with Ryan, Carter and new friends to help her investigate this mysterious phenomenon.
Writer and Director Christopher Landon wisely spends very little time on explaining every aspect of the first film, instead capturing the information through flashbacks while progressing the sequel into even more bizarre territory.
The first film noted its relationship to Groundhog’s Day, while the second one pays its respects to Back to the Future Part II. In doing so, Happy Death Day 2U keeps its horror roots intact, but leans harder into the sci-fi twist, blending multi-verse theories with time travel in a way that’s unique and interesting.
I applaud Landon and crew for not rehashing the same old gags and daring to be different. Most of what works from a story standpoint in Happy Death Day 2U is its script and direction, which keep you on the edge of your seat, throwing most of what you thought you knew out the window.
The rest of what works is leading lady Jessica Rothe, who became the breakout star of the first film. Rothe’s ability to play both the bitchy sorority sister and the caring daughter or girlfriend is remarkable. Her energy is the lifeblood of this series and I hope she becomes an even bigger star because of this.
Rounding out the core cast is Phi Vu and Israel Broussard. Both men give the film its much-needed angles. Vu provides the story with the explanation, while Broussard gives Tree her love interest and essential fighting strength to pick her decisions wisely.
Happy Death Day 2U‘s core themes are great too, focusing on not getting hung up with the past and learning to move forward. The person you are today is because of what you did yesterday and shortchanging that would be to essentially unravel what being you is all about.
The fact that Landon can incorporate that inside of a wildly energetic time-traveling horror comedy is both ballsy and worthy of recognition.
Those thinking that Happy Death Day 2U is going to be just another soul-less cash-grab sequel can put those fears to bed, because the film has a lot to say and will surely want you to see how they could possibly come back for more.
Jessica Rothe continues to command the screen, while Christopher Landon‘s love for genre filmmaking becomes more evident as he continues to blend genres together like a morning protein shake, with ease.
Happy Death Day 2U is one of the rare ones — a sequel with so much to say without ever overstaying its welcome.