- Universal Pictures
- Warning: There are mild spoilers below for “Happy Death Day 2U.”
- The Universal movie is a sequel to 2017’s hit “Groundhog Day”-inspired “Happy Death Day,” which saw Tree (Jessica Rothe) reliving the day of her murder over and over again.
- Tree finds herself stuck in a similar loop, but this time it’s not a murderer she’s necessarily trying to avoid.
- “Happy Death Day 2U” is definitely sillier than the first, but it never feels like a rehash of the original and it will keep you guessing until the end.
“Happy Death Day 2U” brings back the “Groundhog Day”-vibe of Universal’s 2017 horror hit, “Happy Death Day,” as we finally learn why Tree (Jessica Rothe) was reliving the same day over and over again in the first film. But you may not be as happy with the sillier answer that sends her on a sci-fi adventure as she’s thrown back into a time loop reliving her birthday all over again.
Once again, Tree has to figure out how to get things back to normal with her now-boyfriend Carter (Israel Broussard), who doesn’t remember they’re together, and his roommate Ryan (Phi Vu). This time, the stakes are a little bit higher than worrying about getting killed by a man wearing a creepy baby mask each day.
Why you should care: The original director and writer is back and it’s a Blumhouse production.
- Universal Pictures
Director and writer Christopher B. Landon returns for the sequel, an idea he told INSIDER in 2017 he had in mind while making the first film. In fact, Landon recently told INSIDER he already had the screenplay for this film ready and waiting to go after 2017’s “Happy Death Day” slasher. He was just waiting to see if he would get the greenlight from Universal Pictures to make the sequel. After the first film made over $125 million in theaters on a $5 million budget, the sequel was an easy decision.
You may not recognize the name Jason Blum, but you know his movies. Blumhouse Productions is responsible for putting out big horror hits on micro budgets ranging from “Get Out” and “Split” to “Paranormal Activity.” “Happy Death Day 2U” is the producer’s second release of the year after January’s “Glass.”
In addition to Rothe, the rest of the main cast returns from the first film, including Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Charles Aitken, Ruby Modine, and Rachel Matthews in a larger role. Suraj Sharma (“Life of Pi”) and Sarah Yarkin (“Foursome”) join the sequel as they try and help stop the time loop Tree is stuck inside.
What’s hot: It’s not a rehash of the original and it’s doubtful you’ll be able to guess where the movie’s going. The main star, Jessica Rothe, is delightful to watch in a ‘Back to the Future’-inspired sequel.
There are three great things about “Happy Death Day 2U” to highlight. The first is that it doesn’t insult viewers by rehashing the first movie again to repeat the slasher we saw the first time. That’s something Landon told INSIDER was important to him if he was going to make a second film. Otherwise, there was no point in delivering a second film.
- Universal Pictures
That said, the movie definitely isn’t predictable. Like the first, it has many twists and turns you didn’t see coming which kept you wondering what will happen next during the short 90-minute movie.
Amid a silly reveal early into the film, Jessica Rothe once again gives a great performance as Theresa aka Tree Gelbman. Her presence makes this franchise worth watching as she dies over and over again trying to find a way back home in the sequel. Unlike the first film, which very heavily channeled “Groundhog Day,” “Happy Death Day 2U,” without spoiling too much, has more of a “Back to the Future” vibe.
While you won’t stop seeing Tree die in different ways, something which may have helped make the first movie so popular, the sequel has a surprising moral quandary underneath its exterior as it furthers Tree’s backstory in an unexpected way. At the heart of the movie, is the question of whether or not Tree can move on from and let go of her past in order to live her life.
What’s not: the addition of new characters and a slightly silly reason for why Tree is reliving the same day over and over again
- Universal Pictures
It may be best to say that some answers are best left unknown. Many people wish they didn’t know what a blue CGI Will Smith looked like in the “Aladdin” remake and viewers similarly may leave “Happy Death Day 2U” wishing they didn’t know why Tree was reliving the same day over and over again. The answer dilutes the mystery of the first film a little bit by assigning a scientific answer to her problem that opens up an entirely different can of worms.
For what it’s worth, Landon’s two scripts for this franchise are pretty self aware of how viewers will react to certain moments in a film. It was satisfying to see a scene in the sequel where Tree addresses the silly answer to her cosmic dilemma, specifically. It’s something viewers may appreciate for calling out an answer they weren’t expecting to receive.
And if you’re ready to think that Landon came up with the answer for why Tree keeps reliving her birthday on the fly, that’s not true. Landon told INSIDER there are two big hints in the first film that give the sequel’s big mystery away.
While the main cast has the same energy as the first, the addition of two science partner sidekicks to Carter’s roommate Ryan, played by Suraj Sharma and Sarah Yarkin, come across just as silly as the answer for why Tree is reliving the same day over and over again.
The bottom line: If you’re invested in this franchise, you’ll want to watch this one in the event there’s another sequel.
- Michele K. Short/Universal Pictures
Albeit a slightly underwhelming answer to the first movie’s biggest mystery, you have to give credit to director Christopher B. Landon for making an original sequel to a horror slasher that flips the movie’s genre a bit.
Part of the charm of this franchise is that you can get caught up in not knowing what’s going to happen next as Tree relieves the same day over and over again. She may live an hour or two or make it through nearly an entire day without getting killed. It’s kind of a fun ride if you don’t think about it too much. Stay after the credits for a scene which sets up a possible third, and most likely, final film to the franchise.
“Happy Death Day 2U” is in theaters Wednesday, February 13. You can watch a trailer for the movie here below.
- Read more:
- The man behind hits ‘Paranormal Activity,’ ‘Split,’ and ‘Get Out’ is interested in doing his own cinematic universe like Marvel and DC has done
- How it took nearly 10 years to make the horror movie ‘Happy Death Day’
- The sequel to ‘Happy Death Day’ isn’t out yet, but the director already has an idea for a third movie