I'm writing this with my cat sitting in my lap. Has nothing to do with the movie. But they have nine lives, right? Good enough credentials.
What I Thought of the First One
Back in 2017, I will be honest, I was pretty skeptical of Happy Death Day before seeing it. For a number of reasons. One; it was the third flick to come out that year to try replicating the premise of Groundhog Day. That was an oddly popular plot to rip-off in 2017. Two; it was from the writer and director of Paranormal Activity 2, 3, 4, The Marked Ones, and also one of the most irritating movies I’ve seen in years, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse… I did not like this filmmaker in the slightest.
My third reason, frankly the more significant reason why I wasn’t looking forward to watching Happy Death Day was because it is a PG-13 slasher… I’m sorry, to me, PG-13 and SLASHER don’t go together. However, after coming out of the first movie, I was delighted to find an extremely entertaining and even at times a powerfully heartfelt horror-comedy. I still maintain that the PG-13 rating was a major blackeye on an otherwise fantastic time, it just bugs me that it is very obvious how the film was cut down and manipulated to shy around R rated material.
Going Into the Second One.
Being a fan of the first Happy Death Day and seeing the trailers, I was pretty excited to check the sequel out, Happy Death Day 2U. It looked like a lot of fun and I became really excited to see these charismatic characters back again. My only issue being that it looked as though the filmmakers didn’t learn from the first go around as it appeared to be another PG-13 slasher. Coming out of the sequel, again, I was surprisingly delighted and charmed by the movie. I had fun with this absurd time/dimension traveling story, I fell even more so for all of the characters, and I enjoyed the dark humor mixed in with an emotionally driven narrative. This was a pretty solid and hilarious ride.
Initially taking place the very next day after the events of the first movie, Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) discovers that her boyfriend’s roommate has fell victim to a similar fate as she did yesterday. Reliving the same day over and over again while a killer is after him. After discovering that these occurrences are the result of a science experiment gone wrong, Tree is accidentally thrusted into an alternate reality as she relives that Monday the 18th all over again with a masked killer on the loose. Only this time, things seem to be looking up for Tree as this dimension holds an undeniable appealing factor that may influence her to stick around. But she has to figure out how to close the time loop for good so she never has to relive Monday the 18th ever again, with the help of her new friends, they may just be able to solve the riddle.
Think Sci-Fi Over Horror
As the first one sunk its roots in paying homage to Groundhog Day inside of a slasher, the sequel very much so pays tribute to being more akin with Back to the Future Part II crossed with Real Genius. The writer shakes things up from the formula we grew accustomed to in the first film and completely goes for it. Happy Death Day 2U embraces how ridiculous this scenario is and has fun with it, knowing full well that this is outlandish, while somehow even injecting a big heart with these characters involved. Not entirely abandoning the horror genre, but way more so delves into its fantasy elements this time around. Much like Back to the Future Part II, the movie explores how much further the insanity of alternate dimensions and timelines can go. Sprinkled with some of the wacky shenanigans and cartoonish college antics from Real Genius. With the center of it all being the character of Tree and the decisions that she makes in order to be a better person or to somewhat selfishly better her own life instead. The film is actually pretty smart with its character writing because we totally understand as to why our lead makes certain choices and we can easily still sympathize with her, even when she might be making a questionable move.
My goodness, Jessica Rothe really is the heart and soul for both of these films. Her work is truly phenomenal, as she brings such a major likability factor to her character of Tree. Rothe is equal parts hilarious and downright heartbreaking when the scene calls for it. When tears come out of her eyes, I’m fighting some back as well. When she snaps with a sharp quip and her sarcastic attitude, I am laughing my ass off. When the drama starts to hit with the big punches, especially in matters regarding her mother and her love interest, I’m trying hard not to be a blubbering idiot. Jessica Rothe is a great performer and her delivery always seems to be pitch perfect. With a lesser actress, even with simply an adequate actress, I would not enjoy these movies nearly as much. Rothe is probably the biggest reason why the Happy Death Day films work as well as they do. She’s funny, she’s sweet, she’s endearing, she’s captivating, she can kick some ass, she’s got it all. And she is one of those few special actresses/actors that can share chemistry with practically anyone. Honestly, if Jessica co-starred with a cactus she would still manage to make me root for her relationship with the prick. I love her performance quite a bit from these movies and I’m excited to see anything she works on next.
When there was a bit more focus being drawn to the supporting cast in this, truth be told, I was a little nervous at the beginning. Only because the first film did so spectacularly at being nearly a one-woman show, this time around Tree has to rely more on her new friends. Some of which were not present in the previous venture. My worries were quickly put to rest after seeing their interactions together and they were also very amusing to watch. Like I mentioned prior with the film taking a few ques from the college shenanigans from Real Genius, these supporting characters are mostly how those scenarios come about. I enjoyed watching this cast work off of each other, they had some pretty laugh-out-loud moments with the clashing of their personalities in the middle of this implausible sci-fi premise while also having to deal with the stereotypical college dean that has had enough of their crazy buffoonery. They were a lot of fun.
While I still wish that these movies would have just gone for the R rating as both the narratives clearly want to with some of the material present, I had a lot less of a problem with the PG-13 rating in the sequel than I did with its predecessor. There wasn’t too much that made me feel like this was cut down for the rating like I felt largely in the first Happy Death Day. Mainly due to the sequel being more of a sci-fi shenanigans romp rather than a slasher like before. There are times though that it is still distracting, such as when someone gets shot or stabbed, it’s almost completely bloodless. Although there was one kill that supplied a decent amount of blood that made me laugh, so I will give credit with that one. I won’t spoil what it is, but if you see it then you’ll probably know what I mean. So the PG-13 rating is less of an issue this time around because of the tone the movie takes making it much sillier in some aspects than before. But I would have preferred if the filmmakers grew some balls and released them with an R. Not a huge deal, just a tiny thing that irks me somewhat.
For the most part, the effects work is fine. The CGI is not what I would call “realistic”, however, my argument would be that this movie is clearly trying to be an ‘80s college movie. Meaning, it’s practically a cartoon. So when certain effects looked goofy, I really didn’t bat an eye. I kind of accepted how the movie was going for not being all that grounded, but being over-the-top. Happy Death Day 2U captures the spirit of something like Real Genius or Weird Science and runs with it. Making these movies try to obey the laws of reality would have been a colossal mistake. If anyone were to complain that the CG looks fake, I couldn’t argue with that, most of the time it does look phony. It takes place in a realm outside of our own, so I’m okay with it here. My primary reason honestly is that I’m simply entertained and invested enough to not care about cartoonish CGI. When a movie engrosses me enough, I can look past almost anything. With Happy Death Day 2U, I was engrossed and I knew what it was going for, so I didn’t mind some of the goofier effects.
If You’re Looking For A Good Time
I highly recommend checking both Happy Death Day and Happy Death Day 2U if they sound like your cup of tea, this series is turning out to be quite fun and humorous. In a way, 2U reminds me of if the Final Destination sequels actually tried doing something different with their formula. Instead, that franchise stuck with the exact same formula over and over again with its basic plot points for every installment, Happy Death Day 2U adjusts its own formula to keep things feeling fresh while still coming across as a natural progression for the movies. This was funny, sweet, and emotional at times. Something I appreciated about the writing this time around was that it felt like it gave satisfying and proper resolutions to a select few characters from the first movie that were slightly looked over then. I dug that approach with their attention and care for these characters.
Could I have easily gone into ripping the film apart with continuity errors and plot holes or how certain things don’t make sense. Certainly. That stuff didn’t really bother me though. I had fun, and if I’m having enough fun, I don’t care about stuff like that. I won’t lie. As long as a movie can overcome its problems with being entertaining or investing in some way, I can look past them. I’m not the type to go to a movie to nitpick it to death and say stuff like, “Well, it’s okay, but in the first movie she wore different pants. And the actual scientific parameters in creating a parallel dimension far more energy than what the city could supply from their electric generators. Zero stars.” Piss off with that nitpicking crap.
The ending also sets up a third addition, honestly, I’m all for it. If these movies can continuously entertain and reinvigorate its premise, I’m onboard. I really am. I wouldn’t mind seeing this turning out to be the next big horror franchise. As long as the writer/director doesn’t turn it into another Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse or a Paranormal Activity 7 then I’m good! See these movies at your earliest convenience!
Which Death Day Did You Prefer?
That’s All Folks!
Happy Death Day 2U, I’d say was a lot of fun. But what about you? Did you agree or disagree with that assessment? Like or dislike my review? Wish that I would take a bath with a plugged in hair dryer? Comment down below and let me know! And if you so happened to have enjoyed my review then please do me a little favor and share this article around the social media world as that really helps me out. Thank you all so much for reading and have yourselves a Live.Die.Repeated day… ya know… that really doesn’t sound as polite as I thought it would.
© 2019 John Plocar