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Wednesday
Feb202019

AGAIN AND AGAIN...AGAIN // A FILM REVIEW OF "HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U"

BY MATEO MORENO

Happy Death Day, the 2017 low budget hit from BlumHouse Productions, was Groundhog Day meets Scream. It was a clever mix of satire and horror, taking the lead character of Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) and making her the mean girl who becomes the nice girl after having to relive her birthday over and over when she’s killed at the end of each day. So she wakes up again and again, slowly figuring out clues on how to figure out who her killer is. It’s fast paced and fun, and a refreshing take on the low-budget horror genre. Since it ended up grossing $125 million on a paltry $4.8 million budget, an inevitable sequel wasn’t a surprise. But what was a surprise is that the sequel would play with other genre’s and match (if not improve) the cleverness of the original.

 

HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U reunites the entire original cast and starts up right after the first film ends. But we start the film following a very minor character from the first film – Ryan Phan (Phi Vu). You’ll remember him as Carter’s roommate who keeps entering the room at an inappropriate time. Here, we see him head towards his room and enter, just like he does in the original film. When his roommate kicks him out of his own room, he ends up meeting up with other friends of his and gets murdered himself. What follows is Tree having to team up with her new boyfriend Carter (Israel Broussard), his roommate Ryan, and his friends Samar (Suraj Sharma) and Dre (Sarah Yarkin) to solve yet another murder in a looping day. But this time, the story veers from Horror to Sci-Fi as we start playing with alternate timelines in a very clever addition to a genre that usually just repeats the first films formula.

 

As Tree starts reliving the days again, she starts noticing small changes, like her frenemy Danielle (Rachel Matthews) is slightly different, as is Carter and her killer roommate Lori (Ruby Modine). And in this reality, her Mother is still alive. So is it worth actually solving this loop if she can be happy for once? Like I said, it’s a different path than the original, but still keeps the same brand of dark humor and zaniness that made the first film shine. Jessica Rothe is just as charming and strong here as she was in the original, with her comic timing and strong presence on screen. Israel Broussard has more to do here and also is quite good. Phi Vu, Rachel Matthews, and Ruby Modine have the biggest changes since the first, with new personalities for Danielle and Lori and a fully fleshed out character arc for a one-joke character that fully works. Rounding out the cast, Suraj Sharma and Sarah Yarkin are warm and charming and help fill out the zaniness of the sci-fi edition.

 

Writer/Director Christopher Landon really delivers a delightful surprise here, one that’s funny, consistent and original. Not every joke lands, and not every addition feels necessary, but you admire the grand design he’s going for. And even though the mid-credit tag feels more like a joke than a set up for a sequel, after seeing what they can do by mixing two genres, I’m game for a third repeat to the land of the creepy baby mask killers.

 

MATEO'S GRADE: B+

WRITTEN BY Christopher Landon, Scott Lobdell DIRECTED BY Christopher Landon STARRING Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin, Rachel Matthews, Ruby Modine, Steve Zissis, Charles Aitken, Lauren Clifton, Jason Bayle, Missy Yager. Now playing in cinemas.

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