time loop

Happy Death Day 2U

death

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)

Inoperable

inoperable

Amy awakens in a seemingly abandoned hospital during a hurricane. As she explores the halls of the hospital she discovers the remaining doctors and nurses are doing horrible things to the few patients left. What’s even worse is that Amy’s time in the hospital keeps resetting, making her wake up in the hospital bed over and over. Amy must find a way to escape the hospital before she ends up stuck in her loop forever.

Inoperable is the kind of film that reveals more and more layers as you watch it. At first, nothing seems to entirely make sense. We watch as Amy repeatedly wakes up in a hospital bed, transported from her car stuck in traffic, while she attempts to find out what is happening. Many viewers will likely compare this time loop to films like Groundhog Day and the more recent Happy Death Day. When she’s in the hospital it quickly becomes clear something isn’t right with the staff. The doctors and nurses all seem to want to perform horrific, unnecessary, and painful procedures to torture the few remaining patients, including Amy. The beginning feels a bit slow as Amy wakes up multiple times in the hospital and simply explores the landscape, getting her bearings for this strange place. From there we learn more about what Amy has to do to survive, and possibly escape, right along with her. Once the plot picks up a bit it gets much more interesting, but then the end has quite a significant twist. While the twist made me think more highly of the film, it is still problematic. Throughout the film there are several references to a military base doing experiments, which is a possible explanation for the time loop. Even before the twist this felt like an afterthought to the rest of the plot, but after the twist it makes even less sense. With the twist, you get a better understanding for much of the prior events, but I feel like the mention of the military base ends up being pointless and muddies the plot.

One of the highlights of this film are some of the visual aspects. The most interesting visual is how the filmmakers chose to show the transitions as Amy goes from being in her car during the day to stuck in the hospital during a hurricane. As they begin to show it happen more and more the transitions become much more interesting and clever. Another interesting visual aspect of the film is the practical effects. The surgical procedures performed by the hospital staff are gruesome, gory, and surprisingly well done for a lower budget film. It is clear in many of these scenes that the point is to shock and disturb viewers, and the filmmakers do a decent job of just that.

Many horror fans will likely see this film for one reason, Danielle Harris (Halloween 4, Hatchet II). Harris is horror film royalty at this point, and her sizable fan base will bring quite a few viewers to this film to watch her as the lead, Amy. In the beginning of the film Harris seems a bit off. It isn’t until she has other people to interact with that Harris gets her stride and really brings an attention-grabbing performance. Amy is a survivor, which is a role Harris is very familiar with, and as the film progresses Harris is able to show more of the characters strength and determination. When the twist comes into play Harris truly shines, delivering a memorable performance. Unfortunately, some of the smaller rolls detract from the film. For example, with some of the actors portraying the hospital staff, much of the delivery comes across as someone simply reading lines from the script. Luckily there aren’t many scenes focusing on those characters, instead focusing on Amy and a couple other key characters, who also deliver enjoyable performances.

While Inoperable was interesting enough to hold my attention, it isn’t a film I will likely watch again. The plot has its highs and lows. While the twist is definitely entertaining and unexpected, it only adds to the muddled feeling of the plot. The highlights of the film are the visuals and and Danielle Harris as the lead, but some of the other performances take away from the quality of the acting overall. Harris will definitely be a draw for fans. Looking at the rest of her filmography, it is clear that this isn’t one of her best films, although through no fault of her own. The film is one that many viewers will quickly forget, especially with the similarity to other recent horror films.

OVERALL RATING: 4/10