Back in 2017, Happy Death Day, put a “Groundhog Day” spin on the horror genre. The newly released sequel, Happy Death Day 2U, improves upon the original’s formula, and in most ways exceeds its predecessor. Director Christopher Landon returns, along with the entire cast. The continuity is impressive, and really adds to the immersion of an otherwise mundane story. When “Death Day” is at its best, the dialog is goofy, and the tension is authentic. The problem with this sequel is when it takes a step back from the silliness and decides to get real. It is in these moments where the film feels hollow; devoid of any believable happiness, grief or empathy.
Kicking off right where the previous movie left off, Tree (Jessica Rothe) and Carter (Israel Broussard), suddenly realize the murderous cycle is happening again, but this time to Carter’s roommate, Ryan (Phi Vu). After experiencing his own death day, ending with the usual “baby faced” kill-scene, Ryan finds out that the time loops are being caused by a quantum-mechanic-multiverse-machine he is working on. As he runs the machine one more time, it sends Tree into a parallel dimension where her death day loop starts over, but this time, the world is slightly different.
A confusing premise, Landon and co-writer Scott Lobdell, do an admirable job at telling the story at a high-level, never trying to lose the audience to confusion. The story falters in its (almost) complete abandonment of any type of horror and thriller material. Early on, the film provides a nice mix of tension and comedy, effortlessly switching between the two genres, all while keeping the story fresh. As “Death Day” enters its second half, the horror aspect is all but gone, and the film relies too much on barren drama and the same hit-and-miss comedic style which is paired better with horror. The acting is also affected by this odd shift in tone, as a cast perfectly suited for a horror/comedy starts to look out of place in some of the more dramatic scenes.
Not a bad movie by any means, Happy Death Day 2U struggles with consistency, which greatly impacts the final act. Horror fans will likely leave disappointed, but fans of the first film will appreciate the service. Although the film finds a way to stand on its own, “Death Day” flies a little too close to the sun, and falters in the second half. Although entertaining enough to merit an audience, don’t expect to be blown away by this Blumhouse sequel.
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