HOLLYWOOD—It was the movie that came out of nowhere and took the box-office by surprise in 2017, I’m referring to the horror comedy “Happy Death Day.” It was unlike anything seen in the horror genre before and its unique concept surprised many fans of the horror genre. The premise was simple: Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe), relives her death over and over and over again until she pieces the puzzle together to unmask her killer.
As many people coined it, it was “Groundhog Day,” but with a horror twist. The script balanced wit, humor and fear in a unique way. Cue the fireworks because box-office success led to the sequel “Happy Death Day 2U.” We have the return Tree and her boyfriend Carter (Israel Broussard), and host of new characters, as the time loop takes a twisted turn. Tree is not only being pursued by a killer wearing the school’s mascot, but everyone closet to her are also in danger.
The fun with “Happy Death Day” was that element of plausibility, whereas with the sequel, the notion of rather this could actually occur in real becomes questionable. You have to be able to suspend reality to a massive degree to buy what is being sold by the filmmakers this time around. To elevate the body count and the chaos, science plays a major role in the narrative which alters the time loop in a massive way. I had echoes of “The Butterfly Effect” watching this movie, where all types of chaos ensues, and narrative isn’t as strong as you want it to be.
“Happy Death Day 2U” can be hard to follow at times, so it loses points for that lack of clarity in the script. However, the movie works because it does not take itself seriously, and it doesn’t expect the audience to do so either. The WhoDunIt element is what works so well with this comedy clash. It feels like a sequel that attempted to do everything in its power to come up with creative, wild and outlandish deaths for our protagonists.
I mean our new time ripple brings back Lori (Ruby Modine) from the first flick who may or not be the killer once again. Not to mention Tree is reunited with her mother Julie (Missy Yager) and Carter is now dating Danielle (Rachel Matthews). The shift in the story works because the audience doesn’t quite know where things are headed as the mayhem reaches its climax. The audience is treated to characters who are fun to watch on the big screen, keeps us guessing as to who will meet their maker next, and laughing from start to finish with not only the self-referential humor, but the intricate kills. Oh and there’s a twist that if you look closely you might catch, but it is indeed fun watching it unfold.
At its core, this movie is a guessing game: can you figure out the identity of the killer, before the writer’s reveal the surprise to the audience? Like I said, it’s a wild movie and earns a ton of bonus points for not being afraid to push the envelope so far that you’re laughing inside your head that none of this could actually happen, but you’re so entertained that you could care less.