The cold, undeniable success of Happy Death Day in 2017 almost guaranteed that it would get a sequel in the coming years. It’s easy to swallow, empowering and managed to convert a $5 million budget into at least a $125 million profit. Quite a feat. Yet claiming that “it can only go up from here” is never a safe bet when it comes to franchises.
Hmm, maybe I’m putting my foot in the door here a little bit. Have you perhaps heard of Taken 3? The second Donnie Darko movie? American Psycho II? If you’ve answered ‘no’ to all then, let me assure you, there’s definitely a reason that you haven’t heard of them. However, if your answer was a resounding ‘yes!’ then you have my condolences. Those movies hurt my soul. But the fact of the matter is this: good movies are always hard to follow. Especially, as is the case here, when there was never any plan to make a sequel. Some scripts are only written to be stand-alone, but film studios love to make money and sequels can often bring in a lot of cash. Audiences love to indulge in good content and conveniently forget that there needs to be bad content in order for there to be good content.
Happy Death Day 2U is practically drowning in comedy, drama and family fun . . . which is odd. Wasn’t this supposed to be a horror movie? I’m sure that’s what it said at the ticketing desk. Now, that’s not to say that it does these things badly at all. It completely succeeds in being a sweet, generic and utterly forgettable film which – fair enough – is fine for a movie to do. It just wasn’t what you would expect to come from a good sequel. Gone are almost all of the elements that made the franchise a horror. Instead, the movie has warped into a comedic science fiction: think less Chronical (2012) and more WALL-E (2008). This wild veering off course coincides with the change in screenwriters which, we can assume, aren’t part of a hive mind and therefore have different ideas about what should be done. Scott Lobdell checked out after the first film was written and released which meant that Christopher Landon (the director) had complete control over the sequel. He wrote the screenplay and directed. Too many eggs in one basket if you ask me.
Consequentially, the plot is riddled with more holes than swiss cheese. The movie is constantly trying to stuff these holes with family drama and millennial panic but guess what? If you wanted a full cheese, you would stuff those holes with more of the same cheese! If you want a good horror movie, you have to stuff it full of horror! The first movie understands this. At the risk of sounding a little bit like a film snob, the first film has genuinely funny, satirical comedy and heartfelt moments that are actually relevant. Things that help the characters grow. This film is more of a run of the mill movie that you might enjoy on Netflix but wouldn’t go out of your way to see. Unless, of course, you’re a fan of the actors.
The actors in this film continue to be great. Jessica Rothe is brilliant to watch as Tree – she knows how to go from an annoying sorority girl to a less annoying sorority girl who we actually care about. Israel Broussard is actually enjoyable to watch on screen – much better than, dare I say it, his role in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018). All of the supporting actors manage to hold their own as well (despite the screenplay that consistently lets them down). When it really comes down to it though, this isn’t a movie for those of you who loved the first one. It’s a movie to go to for the actors. If you’re a fan of overdone, slightly cheesy movies then that will work too. It’s not a bad movie by any means . . . it’s just not good.