Happy Death Day

Happy Death Day 2U

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Tree thought she had broken the loop that forced her to relive the same day (and her death) over and over again. She thought she had defeated her killer. Yet that brief happiness is interrupted when a series of events throw her into another time loop. This time it’s different. She will not only have to keep dying and reliving the same day, but now she will also have to make an impossible decision that could change the rest of her life.

Writer and director Christopher Landon (Happy Death Day, Paranormal Activity 3) is at it again with this sci-fi/horror/slasher/comedy mashup. This sequel picks up almost immediately where the first film left off. Poor Tree didn’t even get a full day to enjoy being out of her time loop. Not only does she get stuck in a time loop again, but she is accidentally thrown into an entirely different timeline. It’s up to Tree and her friends, none of whom remember her, to stop the loop. The more difficult decision is whether she will stay in this timeline or go back to her own.

The first film was more of a straightforward slasher-comedy, while this film incorporates even more genres. The most obvious and most important addition is the sci-fi element. In Happy Death Day the film focused on figuring out who the baby face killer was, but in Happy Death Day 2U the focus is on stopping the loop by more scientific means. While some fans of the first film may be disappointed by this change, I think it is brilliant. In a film franchise where the entire premise has to do with reliving the same day over and over, it is important to keep the story fresh so audiences don’t feel like they are watching the same film for the second time in a row. The shift to the sci-fi aspect allows the filmmakers to focus on a new set of characters and a new set of problems. Without giving too much away, this change allowed the film to have an emotional depth that wasn’t present in the first film. Not only do we get to know Tree and other vital characters on a deeper level, but we also watch as Tree is faced with an impossible decision. It tugs at the heartstrings, while still giving plenty of opportunity for humor in the form of Tree’s many deaths and horror in the form of the baby face killer (albeit less horror and baby face than we saw in the previous film).

As a result of the change in tone with the sequel, the performances in Happy Death Day 2U are also much more emotionally driven. Jessica Rothe (Happy Death Day, Forever My Girl) is absolutely dazzling as Tree. What makes Rothe such a joy to watch is how well she balances humor with the more heartfelt moments. She is really hilarious, especially with her reaction to reliving the same day and her many deaths, but this film allows the audience to see a side of Tree we haven’t seen before. Tree is a character I would love to see more of, and Rothe is perfect in the role. Israel Broussard (Happy Death Day, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before) is also enjoyable to watch as Carter. There is something about Broussard and his portrayal of Carter that is instantly endearing and lovable, and his chemistry with Rothe is fantastic. Honorable mention goes to two actors who bring a lot of comedic relief to the film and their roles: Phi Vu (Happy Death Day, Logan) as Ryan and Rachel Matthews (Happy Death Day) as Danielle.

This PG-13 franchise does a really good job of conveying gore without actually showing anything graphic. With each time Tree dies, the death happens just out of sight or the audience isn’t shown the exact moment of her death, but we see when she wakes up and restarts the day. For example, when Tree dies from electrocution, she wakes up when the day restarts to her hair standing up on end. In another scene Tree plummets to her death. We hear the splat and see others react to the carnage, but it happens just out of frame. This method allows Happy Death Day 2U to have a lot of death to appease older audiences while still keeping a low MPAA rating so more moviegoers can enjoy the film.

Happy Death Day 2U has all the fun of the first film while also incorporating new genres and more depth. Considering this is now one of two films that involves reliving the same day on repeat, the filmmakers manage to keep the plot fresh by adding new danger, new twists, and new drama. There will likely be some moviegoers who will not enjoy the subtle genre changes from the first film, but I for one think these changes are a brilliant way to breathe new life to the story. It makes me interested to see what could be done with a third film, and Rothe’s performance makes me want to see much more of Tree. This entertaining and emotionally driven genre-bending flick is one you can even watch with your non-horror loving friends and family.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10

(I saw the first film, but didn’t ever review it. If I did I would have also given it an 8/10)

Favorite Things: Birthday Movies Pt 1

Today is my birthday! To celebrate I wanted to create a fun movies list for you all. I couldn’t decide what the basis for my list should be so I’m giving you not one, not two, but THREE movie lists! First up is a list of horror films that take place on or around a character’s birthday.

Here are my top five favorite horror films that take place during a birthday (in no particular order):

1. FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)

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While a birthday is only really mentioned in passing, there was no way I could not include Friday the 13th on this list. The killings that take place at Camp Crystal Lake happen on what would have been Jason Voorhees’ birthday. This is a classic slasher flick that made way for numerous sequels. All the kills in this film are as awesome as in the subsequent films, yet this first installment stands apart for one specific reason (which I won’t mention even though by now you should know the spoilers). Friday the 13th is a film every horror fan needs to see.

2. MY SOUL TO TAKE (2010)

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This was Wes Craven’s penultimate film he directed and the last feature film he wrote. My Soul to Take revolves around a group of kids all born on the same day. The night they were born a serial killer with multiple personalities was killed, so the townsfolk believe one of his personalities went into each kid. It’s a really great concept, but for some reason the film was not liked by critics and moviegoers alike. I personally love this film. It’s a great story with a wonderful cast and an amazing performance from Max Thieriot (Bates Motel).

3. DEMONS 2 (1986)

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If you’ve seen Demons and thought that was crazy, just wait until you see Demons 2. This sequel takes the insanity and gore from the first film and injects it with steroids. There are crazed demons, a dog creature, and tons and tons of gore all inside a 10-story high-rise. It all starts with a teenage girl’s birthday where she ends up possessed, and the “plot” continues to go nuts from there. In terms of quality the first film is probably better, but Demons 2 is still gory and unintentionally funny. If you love campy films, you’ll love this one.

4. HAPPY DEATH DAY (2017)

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This is a film that really surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. The basic premise is a college student who gets repeatedly killed on her birthday, only to wake up and restart the same day. Happy Death Day is one of the most successful horror films that uses the gimmick made famous by Groundhog’s Day. It has a really great mystery, it’s fun, and it had me laughing the entire time. This is a film I definitely recommend, especially with the sequel coming out this year.

5. CHILD’S PLAY (1988)

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Child’s Play is a double-whammy because it takes place during a birthday AND it came out the year I was born. As I’m sure you all know, the film tells the tale of a serial killer who uses a spell to put his soul inside a Good Guy Doll in order to escape the police. Then a woman buys that possessed doll for her son’s birthday, which leads to murder and mayhem. Like Friday the 13th, this is another classic horror film that spawned several sequels. I personally love villains with a lot of personality, so Chucky is one of my favorite bad guys to watch.