‘Happy Death Day 2U’ a refreshing play on sci-fi, horror tropes

February 23, 2019
Rose Dunton

A sequel to the underrated, sure-to-be cult classic “Happy Death Day,” “Happy Death Day 2U” expands upon the formula, giving a wild and entertaining explanation behind the events of the first film. Distancing itself from the slasher genre save for a couple scenes, it expands its story to include tropes from multiple genres. More emotionally complex and genre-bending, “Happy Death Day 2U” is not only a strong sequel to the original, but a fun movie in its own right.

After breaking the time loop and unmasking the killer in the first film, college student Tree Gelbman is able to continue living her life relatively unaffected. However, in her search for answers she winds up stuck in another loop — this time in a parallel universe. With all her friends slightly different versions of themselves, she quickly discovers that her boyfriend’s roommate’s science project had something to do with it. With the masked killer targeting not only her, but her friends, Tree now has to not only figure out how to stop the loop and get back home, but save her friends from the murderer before she runs out of lives.

Fresh and full of twists, “Happy Death Day 2U” gives its audience the best parts of the first film while introducing equally entertaining new ideas. Sprinkling in genuinely sweet, heartfelt moments among the more exhilarating, suspenseful ones, “Happy Death Day 2U” is just as good, if not better than, the first. I surprised myself with how emotionally invested I was, and the notes of nerdy romanticism and familial relationships meshed well with its backdrop of science fiction time loops and knife-wielding murderers.

One of the better slasher comedies, “Happy Death Day 2U” cleverly beats sequelitis by delivering an expansion, rather than a rehash, of the original movie. Jessica Rothe is especially notable in her performance of Tree, matching her moments of anger, fear, and kindness with near-perfect comedic timing. A true force to be reckoned with, she absolutely sells the film with her fierce confidence and determination. Israel Broussard and Phi Vu are similarly great as Carter, Tree’s boyfriend, and his roommate, with Phi being given a significantly more developed role, and deservedly so.

Self assured and confident, part of what makes “Happy Death Day 2U” so entertaining is that it never forgets its characters and story within the zany concepts and wild ideas found throughout. Living proof that it is possible to “have it all” in a horror-comedy, “Happy Death Day 2U” is well written, well acted, and an absolute joy to watch.

Grade: B+

Rose Dunton, originally of Nampa, has been living in Pocatello for the past four years. Proficient in Japanese, she is an avid film buff.