Dan's Review: "Happy Death Day 2 U" is kind of scary and kind of fun
Feb 12, 2019 06:16PM
● By Dan Metcalf
Jessica Rothe in Happy Death Day 2U - © 2019 Universal Pictures.
Happy Death Day 2 U (Universal)
Rated PG-13 for violence, language, sexual material, and thematic elements.
Starring Jessica Rothe, Ruby Modine, Israel Broussard, Rachel Matthews, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin, Charles Aitken, Phi Vu, Jason Bayle, Missy Yager, Caleb Spillyards, Laura Clifton, Steve Zissis, Wendy Miklovic, Rob Mello, Sarah Bennani, Tran Tran, Blaine Kern III.
Written and directed by Christopher Landon.
The bane of most movie genres is the dreaded cliché. Some call it “formula,” and no movie type suffers more from common platitudes than the horror category (romantic comedies are up there, too). So, besides not being a fan of clichés, I’m also not a fan of blood and gore, which places me at increased odds with horror movies. A new PG-13 trend has surfaced of late within the horror genre, allowing for all the scares but without all the f-bombs, buckets o’ blood and gratuitous nudity. Even with these stripped-down scares, the clichés are still there, Happy Death Day 2 U, the sequel to 2017’s Happy Death Day arrives in theaters this week, providing a humorous take on the tried and true horror formulas.
Jessica Rothe returns as “Tree,” a once-skanky sorority girl now reformed into the down-to-Earth sweet girlfriend to Carter (Israel Broussard), following the events in the first film. Without getting into the complicated (and conveniently absurd) quantum mechanics needed to explain the convoluted premise of the movie, suffice to say that due to a rift created by Carter’s geeky roommate Ryan (Phi Vu) and his lab partners (Suraj Sharma and Sara Yarkin), Tree gets stuck in the same time loop she experienced in the first film that forces her to repeat the same day (her birthday) over and over, each of which ends in her death (usually at the hands of a killer wearing a creepy baby mask). But the new loop is in an alternate universe, where Tree’s acquaintances’ original roles are switched up. In the new universe, Tree’s mom (Missy Yager) is still alive and Carter is dating her alpha-girl sorority president Danielle (Rachel Matthews). The only way to set things right is to re-boot the geeks’ quantum reactor, but the formula can’t be attained without trial and error through the process of elimination. This requires Tree to repeat “Groundhog Day” style and die several times while memorizing the failed formulas. In the meantime, the killer stalks her and her loved ones, causing all sorts of mayhem. Tree is also conflicted about leaving the realm where her mom is alive. In a race against the “new” killer behind the mask, Tree and her pals must avoid being murdered before the time travel weakens her to death. They must also outsmart Dean Bronson (Steve Zissis), who is constantly trying to shut down the science project.
Happy Death Day 2 U has all the methodical horror movie devices at play, including but not limited to the tried-and-true jump scare, which happens with extreme regularity (writer-director Christopher Landon somehow avoided the ever-popular “let’s split up,” “he’s right behind you,” and “get out of there!” clichés, though they are often implied). What sets HDD2U (and its predecessor) apart from other horror films is the humor, which makes all those clichés a little more fun. The script isn’t an instant classic and mostly relies on riffs from the first film. HDD2U also doesn’t pack much star power, with the main characters being played by a lot of talented, yet unknown folks.
While HDD2U is not a great movie and it has a lot of loose ends (especially with respect to the consequences of time travel to other dimensions), it’s fun enough to palatable (like the first film). You won’t lose brain cells from seeing HDD2U, but you won’t gain any, either.
So, if you like to be mildly surprised and enjoy a little horror movie humor fun, HDD2U is a good call. Otherwise, “Get out of there! He’s right behind you!”
Happy Death Day 2 U Trailer