A review of Happy Death Day 2U by Ahmed Zayani
Valentine's Day. For many couples, it is a day to celebrate your love by going out and painting the town red through lavish parties, romantic dinners, and the occasional stroll across the fine line of decency. For others, however, this is a day to spend in the intimacy of your significant other; a nice private dinner, gift giving, and capping the night tucked under a warm blanket enjoying a fun, somewhat cheesy, film.
Wait...something about this feels a little bit too familiar, like I have gone through this whole song and dance before. You know what, never mind that. The fact of the matter is that in recent years, there is one genre that seemed to be getting more and more traction during the season of love and oddly enough, that genre is horror. After the publication of our valentine’s list a couple of weeks back, I along with other members of The Sterling Film Society were overwhelmed by the amount of people asking about that perfect horror film to watch with their significant other, come February 14th. Hell, even Hollywood is now keen on getting into the action with more and more genre offerings coming out on that given date, as is the case with today’s review subject.
Directed by Christopher Landon (who also wrote this entry) Happy Death Day 2U is the sequel to 2017’s Happy Death Day and once again follows Tree Gelbman (played once more by the affable Jessica Rothe) who finds herself trapped again in a Groundhogs Day-esque loop where her birthday resets after a fatal encounter with the Babyface Killer. Along with a motley crew of her college friends, Tree must figure out who exactly is behind the mask and how she can close the loop once and for all. When released a mere sixteen months ago, Happy Death Day took people by surprise. Here was a film that came seemingly out of nowhere that had the wit of Harold Ramis’ Groundhogs Day and the slasher chops that would make the late Wes Craven proud. This was s film that would fit in perfectly with the slew of slashers that defined 80s horror cinema and we genre fiends loved it all the more for that. With a sequel being green lit and released so soon after the first, many fans were worried that this would be a rushed cash grab that would serve as nothing more than a carbon copy of the original. Those fears proved to be unwarranted when the Valentine’s Day release date rolled around and to the surprise of many; Happy Death Day 2U proved to be a worthy sequel. As a matter of fact, I watched this film with three other friends (at the awesome Saar Cineplex, the best friggin cinema in The Kingdom #SaarForever) and they all agreed that this is a rare follow out that outdoes the original in every possible way. I will not get into the storyline details to avoid spoilers (and if you seek them out on your own then shame on you!!!) but this film has quite the interesting genre pivot that took the narrative down a more intriguing path that paid homage to the second Back to the Future film. This pivot will surely catch the ire of some fans but I personally thought that this illogical genre jumble was the right direction to take this franchise going forward and expand this universe in new and exciting ways.
While this entry downplayed the horror they upped the ante on the comedy tenfold with one particular scene midway through that had my friends Ebtehal and Asmahan laughing so hard the entire theatre was fixated on them. The film also had a nice dose of heart and drama that was not expected, yet I thoroughly enjoyed, and gave the cast something different to showcase their acting chops with. Speaking of which, just like its predecessor, this sequel came with a lovable and captivating cast, but this was Jessica Rothe’s show all the way and she carried the film like a seasoned pro. Despite this being only her second leading role, Rothe was a champion of the screen, with her charisma and charm shining through. It was obvious that she was absolutely relishing the part and the film was all the better for it. I for one cannot wait to see what else Jessica has to offer, be it in the horror genre or something outside of her comfort zone.
Are there any complains? Well, if I had to nitpick, I would’ve loved to see a bit more of the Babyface Killer and I for one saw the end reveal coming a mile away. Be that as it may, Happy Death Day 2U proved to be a worthy sequel that is every bit as good as the original and I for one cannot wait to see what Landon, Blum, & company have in store for us with the final chapter.
For more cinematic intel, follow Ahmed on : @theahmedzayani
The Five: Favourite Genre-Switching Sequels
- Terminator 2: Judgement Day
- Army of Darkness
- Fast Five
- The Devil’s Rejects