Main cast: Jessica Rothe (Theresa “Tree” Gelbman), Israel Broussard (Carter Davis), Ruby Modine (Lori Spengler), Rachel Matthews (Danielle Bouseman), Charles Aitken (Dr Gregory Butler), and Rob Mello (Joseph Tombs)
Director: Christopher Landon
Happy Death Day 2U is its worst enemy. No, wait, the previous movie Happy Death Day is. The previous movie was interesting and inventive for a movie from Blumhouse these days, but it was released only in late 2017 and hence, it is still fresh in my mind when I sit down to watch this sequel. This is a problem because this movie is basically the same story.
Tree is back, and now her time loop thing has somehow been passed to her boyfriend Carter’s roommate Ryan, and his efforts to stop the time loop using the power of movie science end sending Tree back into her own time loop. Only, this is a time loop in an alternative time line, one in which her mother is still alive, much to her delight, and she is closer to Lori, but there are drawbacks. Carter is not her boyfriend; rather, he is seeing Danielle, Tre’s sorority leader in her original time line, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg: she is once again targeted by the Babyface killer.
I don’t know what to say. Happy Death Day 2U leans more towards sci-fi romper (think Back to the Future-style capers) than an outright paranormal slasher film, but the déjà vu here is super strong. Tree goes through the same family angst arc, she is rehashing the same old teen love blues with Carter, and the whole “got killed today, try again tomorrow” thing are all so Happy Death Day that I end up feeling bored as this movie trundles past its first half hour. This isn’t a long movie – about 100 minutes – but it manages to come off as a painfully tedious rehash that fails to have enough things to distinguish it more from the previous movie. It sure feels like I’ve just seen this movie yesterday, and that’s its biggest problem.
Then again, this movie also has many of the good qualities that made the previous movie a fun one: good pacing, a nice balance of humor and pathos, and some well-placed scares that don’t feel too much like cheap jump scares. Tree is still a likable protagonist, and Jessica Rothe really acts the hell out of her role. If this were supposed to be a rushed film to cash in on the success of the previous film, it’s easily one of the better examples of a well-done cash-in.
It’s just that this movie still feels too much like an unnecessary rehash. I’m not surprised this movie didn’t have a good box-office like the previous one; if you haven’t seen it yet but you enjoy the previous movie, you really shouldn’t rush to see it. Take your time, let a year or two pass by first. Your likelihood of enjoying this one will be so much better for it.