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Happy Death Day 2U review: Horror-comedy keeps dying to reinvent itself



 Film Title: Happy Death Day 2U

Jessica Rothe's Tree returns to Happy Death Day 2U, and she's still dying all over this movie.


Universal Pictures
                                                

With the new horror comedy Happy Death Day 2U, it's time to die again, and again, and again, just like in the 2017 movie Happy Death Day it follows.

Following the Groundhog Day premise of the first movie, the wackier and funnier sequel initially seems like it'll move the story of Tree (Jessica Rothe) forward from the literal last second of the first film. She spent that whole movie trapped in a time walking on her birthday, getting killed by her jealous college roommate and waking up to the day until she solved the murder.

Happy Death Day 2U, which opens Wednesday, at first aims to expand this concept by trapping bumbling science student Ryan (Phi Vu) into a new time, one tree and her new boyfriend Carter (Israel Broussard from To All the Boys I've Loved Before) aim to stop with the help of students working in the school's science lab.

Unfortunately, the science behind the time loops of both Happy Death Day films is the least interesting part of the films. Star Trek: Discovery, Marvel movies and time-travel movies like Back to the Future Part II, in Happy Death Day 2U the ideas come across as a dull, sleepy science class.

That said, once the science is over, Happy Death Day 2U is back to its core: a ridiculous story full of amusing death sequences and funny banter among characters, a few of which are as cartoony as ever. As the trailers reveal, Tree gets stuck in a new time but with her world remixed, and the movie franchise's genre along with it.

Nearly all of the first movie's characters return thanks to this premise. Some are totally different, others appear much the same but have different relationships. And instead of necessarily having her own murder, Tree's trying to figure out whether to restore her original life or embrace a new timeline that feels like an idealized version of her life.

 Film Title: Happy Death Day 2U

Carter (Israel Broussard) and Tree (Jessica Rothe) don't get to develop their relationship much.


Universal Pictures
                                                

See all of the characters return and some of the first film's sequences revised in a slightly different setting is a plus for anyone who enjoyed the original movie, but anyone hopping into 2U without watching the first movie will likely lose out on these references

At first glance for fans of the original movie, each of these scenes seems like a re-creation of what was already the first time. However, thanks to the premise, the twists and deaths keep changing. And unfortunately for Tree, this also means even more dying and reliving the same day over and over – which at this point she handles with expertise during a montage of her committing suicide in a variety of ridiculous ways.

The film's third act takes one more genre-hop into becoming a hoarse movie, and with that turn another actress, Rachel Matthews, gets to shine as Danielle, Tree's attention-demanding frenemy. Matthews brings absurd character acting to a hilarious bait-and-switch scene that almost steals the spotlight from the entire movie.

While Happy Death Day 2U can be classified as a horror movie, it clearly doesn't want to stay in just that genre. Thanks to its lighthearted tone, it's found a way to reinvent itself again.

Inside an indie: Making a movie from scratch without a Hollywood budget : "Happy Death Day 3, fans should probably expect another way to die and reinvent itself again. Go to the networking event. Show up. "

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