I loved Happy Death Day. The first one. It is not just a fun dumb movie, it had soul and a tight narrative. It did the time-loop concept justice and had a consistent vision throughout. I was ecstatic to learn that not only would there be a sequel, but the director and visionary from the first would be back AND the idea for the sequel was something he had been mulling over since doing post-production on the first. We got Happy Death Day 2U!
Happy Death Day 2U debuts in time for Valentine’s Day a year and a half after the first. Yet, it taking place that very next day in universe. We pick up with our hero Tree (it’s short for Teresa, not that weird) having just made it to tomorrow of her crazy Groundhog Day inspired adventure.
*Quick and too early side note. My only complaint about Happy Death Day was that it took until the final shot of the movie. The nerd kid has a poster of They Live in his college dorm to compare what they were going through to the Bill Murray classic. We all get it. It’s Groundhog Day. Either have him comedically say it every time she explains it to him, or don’t acknowledge it at all. At least they get the meta movie references out of the way early in this one.*
Check out the Trailer for Happy Death Day 2U below:
This time we follow ascended comic relief roommate Ryan into the picture, let him say that he’s “not sleeping in his car AGAIN”, and then he goes about the rest of his day as a science major at Bayfield College. Where yes. Their mascot is still a creepy baby. An oddity they will point and laugh at during the movie. That doesn’t give you a pass. And neither does the fact that the NBA team in New Orleans actually had a creepy baby mascot. A professional basketball team trotted out King Baby Cake. Google it, and beware.
Long story short (you: too late) the unexplained time loop and rolling blackouts from the first movie had been caused by a science experiment that Ryan and his two churro loving lab partners were testing. He feels some kind of science need to fire it up again, after heavy protests from Tree, and after going through a couple loops himself (sleeps in his car AGAIN), the machine sends Tree into a parallel dimension.
This time her roommate doesn’t want to kill her, her Queen B—- sorority sister is dating the random but cute loser that Tree fell in love with in the first movie. I don’t know if you remember his name, but it’s Carter. Oh and her mom is alive in this universe. She brings the only good moment of the movie where Tree sees her and understands that this is a different universe. Yet, it doesn’t matter because the one thing she wants in the world is right here.
Overindulge on Fruit Loops, Not Time Loops
Then as if that wasn’t plot enough, we finally get to the catchy part of the movie the trailer advertises. This is where Tree gets stuck in a loop AGAIN and has to kill herself over and over. But not because her friends keep dying and the only way for everyone to survive is to restart the day; video game style like the trailer suggests. No, it’s all to memorize a math formula. Half-way through the movie it turns into season 4 episode 6 of Stargate SG-1. And just another time loop thing.
And there lies the problem of Happy Death Day 2U. The film is produced by Blumhouse, famous for its creator driven stories and cheap production. I can’t shake the feeling that this was supposed to be a multiverse hopping movie pressured back into the time loop schtick. Because that’s what worked the first time. So do it AGAIN. Like a loop. Eventually the plot becomes incoherent, and the writing, humor, and horror is all worse than the first and not good enough to carry the movie.
Before going to see a sequel or the next installment in a Cinematic Universe™, I’m always asked if you have to see the first one. The answer here is yes, but also you want to watch the first one. Happy Death Day 2U had honest characters. Happy Death Day 2U, because of its premise, changes some characterization from the first, while totally relying on our knowledge for others. Late in the movie there is a very important character “introduced” that we have only spent one scene with during this movie. But was very fleshed out in the first. Just poor writing.
Post Credits Scene?
The other thing I’m obligated to report on is if you have to stay through the credits. There is a mid-credits scene (after the stylized ones, but before the big black screen with scrolling text) but no post-credits. So you can leave after they tease you with the concept for a third installment. And as much as I was disappointed with this movie, you bet I’ll be back in the theaters when Happy Death Day T(h)ree comes out in 2021.
Let us know what you thought about the film!
Check out other Horror reviews from Cole, our resident Horror-Expert while you’re at it.