I have a soft spot for cheesy horror flicks where the singular goal is to entertain the audience. Last year, when I watched "Happy Death Day," I enjoyed it so much it ended up taking space on my shelf. The original follows the protagonist, Tree, in a "Groundhog Day"-style slasher in which every time she is killed, her day restarts. The initial premise is nothing special, but the movie does some great things that seem pretty original. "Happy Death Day 2 U" had big shoes to fills.
"Happy Death Day 2 U's" story is just alright. We follow Tree again as she relives the same day from the original film with some slight variations. These variations lead to a moral conundrum which, at first, seems interesting, but as the plot plays out, it is used as a crutch to drive some kind of emotion from the audience. By the time we reach the climax, it becomes tiring.
Where the original focused on the mystery of who the killer is, “Happy Death Day 2 U” allows horror to take the backseat, generally focusing on walking around dark hallways with a weapon, building up to fake jump scares and cutting quickly to the killer standing behind the character. Where horror has taken the backseat, the film doubles down on the aspect of comedy, which, when it it hits, is phenomenal.
This movie is often best when it stays in its lane, allowing the audience to be entertained by dialogue and over-the-top scenarios with small bits of slapstick to mix it up. The moments of emotion early on are great, and the characters are believable, which allows the audience to build a small amount of camaraderie with them.
The changes in the universe allow us to see another evolution of Tree and put the audience in the position of figuring out what they would do in that scenario. Sadly, this is really the only kind of character development we get in a movie that introduces so many new characters.
The movie is at its worst when it tries to get smart, both in the aspect of time-travel and the multiverse theory, as well as fourth-wall breaking moments. It is here where the film asks the audience to suspend their disbelief a bit too much, often ending in groans. There is something about the way the time loop was approached and Tree’s reaction seemingly takes away from the charm of the first film.
As far as technicals go, there is nothing stand-out. We have the same cinematography we have seen in movie after movie, mediocre editing that often gives twists in the story away before its intended, and acting that is okay for an MTV flick, but not theaters.
The movie is just alright. It tries to do a lot, which causes it to succeed in very little. The mid-credits scene closes an arc from the beginning of the movie, but feels shoehorned, as if they forgot they needed to end it and just did a quick reshoot. Visually, it does nothing great, and it is a story that had potential if they had rewritten it a few more times.
I would not feel right telling you to rush out to see it, but there is some entertainment here, so possibly catch it On-Demand or Redbox. Final Verdict: C-.