Directed by Christopher Landon [Other horror films: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014), Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015), Happy Death Day (2017), Freaky (2020)]
While it’s true that this sequel isn’t near as good as the first movie, Happy Death Day 2U is still pretty strong, and treads some new waters along with keeping some emotional content within as to not over-focus on the comedy.
If there’s one problem with the film, it’s that the comedy is more prevalent here. It’s just a more light-hearted affair, and while the first film obviously had it’s moments, just the montage of suicides in this movie was enough to put it over-the-top. Also, that sequence with Rachel Matthews’ character pretending to be a French blind girl could have probably been toned down.
Another problem dealt with the fact that the mystery killer portion of the film didn’t seem near as interesting as it was in the first movie. Not that much time was spent on trying to figure out who it might be, and honestly, there’s not that many suspects to begin with, so when we get to the end and find out, it’s not that much of a shock.
The film started out interestingly enough, focusing on a time loop that Ryan (a side-character from the first movie played by Phi Vu) was stuck in, only to move back onto Tree (Jessica Rothe) once an experiment goes awry. I thought sticking with Ryan’s character would have been okay, but with where they took Tree, I didn’t think this fake out was a big let-down.
As such, Phi Vu gets a bit more character here (though still not that much), which was nice to see. Much of the accolades, though, go to Jessica Rothe, especially during the scenes in which she spent time with her mother (alternate universe which her mother’s alive = fun times for Tree). It’s not quite as strong as Tree’s emotional scene with her father in the first movie, but I still think it brought this movie a much needed tone check.
Israel Broussard was just as good in this one as he was in the first, and he and Tree had some sweet moments. If there’s a big flaw insofar as performances go, it’s that Charles Aitken’s character seems so obviously evil, it borders on ridiculous. Sure, he wasn’t that different in the first movie, but here, I just couldn’t get out of my mind that he was a dark doppelganger of Jesse Spencer’s Chase from House.
Happy Death Day 2U isn’t a terrible film. I still found it above average, even, but compared to the first one, which was surprisingly fantastic, it doesn’t leave near as much an impact. I mean, come the end, we get a hideous rendition of “Stayin’ Alive” and a mid-credit sequence which just didn’t land for me. The idea of an alternate world was decent, and it lead to some okay additions, but really, it’s the first movie alone that I find actually special.