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Movie Review: “Happy Death Day 2U” isn’t a Film I’d Want to Relive Again

It sadness me to write this review, because I really loved the first “Happy Death Day”. It was such a pleasant surprise. It was reminiscent of the “Scream” era and provided the same kind of “whodunit” feel that kept you guessing till the very end.

In “Happy Death Day”, sorority girl, Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe), wakes up hungover on her birthday in her nerdy classmate, Carter’s (Isreal Broussard) dorm room. We got a peek into her daily life and learned she ignored her father’s call, she was sleeping with her married professor, and constantly belittled others. That night Tree was stabbed to death by someone in a disturbing baby mask. She then wakes up, and was forced to keep reliving her birthday with each day ending in her being murdered in some gruesome way until she discovered who was trying to kill her.

In “Happy Death Day 2U” Jessica Rothe reprises her role as Tree for a second helping of death day cake only to have it spoiled. Tree believes she has finally broken the loops after killing the person who was trying to murder her.  She’s now a different person. A better person in fact. Unfortunately, she’s wrong. Her now boyfriend, Carter’s roommate, Ryan (Phi Vu) has been working a college science project that was actually the cause of the repeated days. It’s even causing another loop into a parallel dimension. Tree gets sucked into that parallel world, and must relieve another murderous day until she discovers the new killer and the algorithm (will go right over your head) to get back to her original reality.

As I describe the premise, I’m already losing interest. The minute I saw this time machine, the exact thought that popped in my head was, “CRAP!” This sequel immediately feels more like a Disney Channel movie rather than a comedy/horror. All of the sudden we’re watching a cheesy comedy about girl deciding what’s more important, her boyfriend or her mom. And when the new killer is finally revealed, you could care less!  I honestly forgot about the killer because they become irrelevant. And the slapstick comedy is so cringe-worthy at times. Just look out for a scene with a fake blind girl and you’ll know what I mean.

At this point you might think I just hated the film all together, but there are some salvageable parts. Rothe is just as charismatic and enjoyable as she was the first time around. This girl really has a knack for comedy. And though I harped a little on it earlier, there are some mother/daughter sequences that hit you right in the feels.  Had the film gone in a different direction, I would have appreciated that story-line a lot more.

Yes, I would have been perfectly fine if they didn’t make “Happy Death Day 2U”, but they did. So should you see it? I can’t believe I’m saying this, but sure…ONLY if you saw and liked its predecessor. It’s not a must watch, but there are some interesting developments. That being said, I would recommend you save your money and make this one a rental.

Rating: 2/5

“Happy Death Day 2 U” opens in theaters February 13.

Movie Review: “Happy Death Day” Delivers Laughs and Scares

“Groundhog Day” meets “Scream” in this surprisingly funny, mystery thriller.

Sorority girl, Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) wakes up hungover on her birthday in a stranger’s (Isreal Broussard) bed. She discovers she stayed the night with nerdy classmate, Carter, and rudely exits his dorm room. Thus begins her rampage of being a narcissistic mean girl to everyone who crosses her path. As we get a peek into a day in the life of Tree, we learn she ignores her father’s call, she’s sleeping with her married professor, and constantly belittles others. I know, hard to believe someone wants to kill her. As the night draws near, Tree heads to a party and is quickly stabbed to death by someone in a disturbing baby mask–oddly enough, that is the school’s mascot.  She then wakes up, and is forced to keep reliving her birthday with each day ending in her being murdered in some gruesome way. As Tree grows weaker with each consecutive loop, she must unmask her murderer and stop them from finishing her off for good.

Writer Scott Lobell does a great job with this clever script, as he adds a lot of humor and makes the film self-aware to the fact that this is a cheesy horror. The self-awareness allows for the movie to go beyond cliché lines and really have fun with a decently, thought out mystery. At this point I’ve described more of a comedy, but director Christopher Landon achieves a handful of scares that will have audiences jumping in their chairs.

The film’s story is solid, but the key ingredient here is the engaging breakout performance by Jessica Rothe. She nails the strong bitchy exterior that actually allows us to not feel guilty when we laugh at her numerous deaths, yet still gains sympathy towards her hopeful victory. Rachel Matthews, who plays an even more awful sorority sister, might provide the most laugh out moments with her over the top bitchy lines.

Whatever “Happy Death Day” lacks in the horror, it makes up for it in its entertainment. Reminiscent of the “Scream” era, it provides the same kind of “whodunit” feel that keeps you guessing till the very end.

I can’t say that this film should be at the top of your must-see list, but if you are looking for a few scares and fun time during this Halloween season, then “Happy Death Day” is the perfect choice.

Rating: 3.75/5

“Happy Death Day” opens in theaters October 13.

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