Review – Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

“Oh, my God. Everything is different. This time it’s coming after all of us.”
Tree Gelbman

Not too long ago, I spent a good amount of time watching as many time-loop movies that I could get my hands on, but that started to get old after a while because a lot of them follow the same exact formula…I mean, what else can you do when you’re basically just re-living the same day every day? That’s not always the case, though. Sometimes, creativity can be found in these films. One of the few films that people began to notice was Happy Death Day as it was one of the first of its kind – not only a comedy, not only a horror film, but a combination of the two, a horror-comedy time-loop movie, and it worked. Now, they again decided to do what no other time-loop movie has done (yet), and made a sequel to it. How in the world do you make a sequel to a time-loop movie, you ask? Well…let me tell you.

Amazingly, they made the bold choice to revisit the same exact day and loop it again, only this time, they changed enough details in a Butterfly Effect kind of way to create an all-new mystery. By doing this, and by introducing new characters into the mix, as well as keeping the old ones around, they were able to keep the story as fresh as the original. It does have a bit of a convoluted story, since there is a few different things happening all at once, but it’s not that bad of a convoluted story. Check out the Narrative Arc category to see a big pet peeve of mine.

Having survived the farcical but utterly life-threatening events in Happy Death Day, the feisty sorority sister, Tree Gelbman, finds herself in the same college dorm, thankful to be alive. However, this time, it’s Carter’s roommate, Ryan, who claims that he is reliving the same paradoxical day over and over again, as a mysterious paranoid killer in a single-toothed baby-faced mask with a big kitchen knife has made a habit of murdering him. Under those circumstances, a valiant but vain attempt to face the challenge, once more, will send Tree back to square one, trapped in an all too familiar and blood-drenched time loop. How many deaths separate Tree from a truly happy birthday?

IMDb

PEOPLE – 13/20 (65%)

Acting – 2/4 | Characters – 2/4 | Casting – 4/4 | Importance – 2/4 | Chemistry – 3/4

Any horror film, regardless if it’s a horror-comedy, should have really, really good characters because if they die, you should feel bad for them. As morbid as that sounds, it’s true. That’s part of what makes Game of Thrones so engaging, killing off main characters…but there are things that contribute to the definition of “main character” too. For the most part, these people really aren’t that memorable or interesting. In the scheme of things they are just…every day people. Albeit silly people at times, they are just people at the end of the day. They aren’t extremely diverse, they sometimes blend into one another because they don’t have the most important roles independently from one another. In short, they aren’t the strongest characters in the world, but they do benefit off of the whole sequel thing. That is, by bringing everyone back and only adding more people into the mix, they made a wise casting choice. Horror sequels specifically are notorious for having the “money-grabbing” issue where everyone is recast because they all usually die in the original film, making it feel less like a real sequel. They didn’t have that issue here. Bringing back the characters also helped the chemistry flow a bit better.. So…take that as you will!

WRITING – 5/10 (50%)

Dialogue – 1/2 | Balance – 1/2 | Story Depth – 0/2 | Originality – 1/2 | Interesting – 2/2

As far as writing is considered, I don’t think they were ever really trying to find something special for this sequel. I even struggled to come up with one good quote to use as my headline for the film because the dialogue is so typical and forgettable that it’s almost surprising, given the partial comedy genre. The comedy really came down to some physical humor, as well as general awkward moments. I did mention before that the film starts to get a bit convoluted as it goes along. There’s a few main story lines happening at once, and once you realize nobody is actually trying to kill Tree this time, a small part of your brain asks what the point of the movie is before remembering that it’s more about figuring a way back to the original timeline, which means she has to kill herself to do it because nobody is actually trying to kill her. No deep or meaningful messages to be found here except maybe some elements on familial closure…not that the audience really cares about that. The things they changed in this film helped it feel fresh, not wholly original, but fresh enough to note, so originality gets half points. As for being interesting? Yes. I was interested enough to watch it, and my interest never really dulled while watching, either.

BTS – 6/10 (60%)

Visuals – 1/2 | Cinematography – 1/2 | Editing – 1/2 | Advertising – 2/2 | Music & Sound – 1/2

There is one noticably good shot in Happy Death Day 2U, and that was when Tree was falling down, it had a very nice slow-motion transition that turned her deathly fall into her gracefully landing on her bed the next morning. It was really well done, and I liked the shot. That being said, that mostly seemed to be a shot created for awe in a trailer than anything else, given the fact that there doesn’t seem to be anything else like that found in the rest of the movie. Everything, and I really do mean everything, seems typical enough that anybody could shoot and edit this feature, so everything basically gets half points here. The only thing awarded full points goes to Advertising, as it was as-advertised for the most part.

NARRATIVE ARC – 8/10 (80%)

Introduction – 1/2 | Inciting Incident – 2/2 | Obstacles – 2/2 | Climax – 2/2 | Resolution – 1/2

Lesson time, honchos! Any introduction to any story should do one basic thing – introduce you to what’s happening. It should give you the feel of the film and basic idea of what’s going to happen in the film as a whole. It does do this, for the most part, except one GLARING problem – a severely false voice when it comes to the the protagonist – you get a very cool idea of how this film will play out based on how it starts, and it throws the rug out from under you after that, which isn’t exactly false advertising…but it can really be seen as confusing for the viewer. Try to focus on one protagonist, please! Flipping from one character to Tree had me questioning things for a while. Other than that, I’d say the narrative structure was pretty strong overall, regardless on if you consider it convoluted or not, it did have a simple main story happening.

ENTERTAINMENT – 5/10 (50%)

Rewatchability – 1/2 | Fun Experience – 2/2 | Impulse/Buy – 0/2 | Impulse/Talk – 1/2 | Sucks You In – 1/2

A score like this basically just means I had a good time while watching the movie. It didn’t blow my mind, it didn’t leave me craving for more. It just was averagely entertaining. I wouldn’t mind seeing it again someday, but probably no time soon. I don’t care to buy or own it, I think it has some things in the film that make great discussion points, and it has a lot of important elements happening in the film that you need to watch…but it also has a lot of repetitive things in the film that you might not NEED to watch. Let’s be clear.

SPECIALTY – 30/40 (75%)

Happy Death Day – 10/10 | Sequel – 5/10 | Time-Loop – 5/10 | Halfway Decent – 10/10

The specialty category is all about meeting expectations, if you think about it. Fans of the first film are going into this movie expecting certain elements, and I try to answer those expectations to the best of my ability here. Okay, so as a Happy Death Day film, does it fit? More ways than a typical sequel would fit, yes, full points. As a sequel, did it need to be made, and does it add anything new? Personally, I don’t understand why it was made in the first place, the first told a standalone story. It surprised me to hear this was being made. However, it DID add plenty of new elements into the mix, which means half points here. As a time-loop movie, I would say it’s extremely interesting how they were able to sucessfully make a sequel to a time-loop film, but overall…it doesn’t match the other films in the subgenre as “Best Of”. As far as being halfway decent, I would certainly say it meets that requirement. The filmmakers made the movie they set out to make, and they did it successfully, so full points there.

TOTAL SCORE – 67%

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