“Happy Death Day 2U” (2019)

Sci-Fi/Horror

Running time: 100 minutes

Written & Directed by: Christopher Landon

Featuring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin, Ruby Modine and Steve Zissis

Tree Gelbman:[to Ryan] “Now you’re stuck in this day. Congrats. Oh, and by the way? You’re going to die. Again… and again… and again.”

Ryan Phan:[cringes] “Carter, tell your girlfriend to stop trying to scare me.”

Carter Davis: “Oh, she’s not my girlfriend.”

[Tree gives Carter an offended look]

Carter Davis: “Well, wait, are you my girlfriend?”

This month saw the release of the latest Blumhouse horror movie “Happy Death Day 2U” (2019) onto DVD and Blu-ray a sequel to “Happy Death Day” (2017) which was yet another box office success for the producers costing a miserly US$5 million, but generating over US$100 million at the global box office, making this yet another example of how Jason Blum is ruling the horror genre as well as utilizing talents such as director Christopher B. Landon (son of Michael) and actress Jesscia Rothe who were not well known quantities but thanks to that first movie were able to return for the sequel. What is interesting with this new sequel was that Landon has put a spin on the horror movie and injected more of a sci-fi feel and look as well as introducing and expanding on new and existing characters to attempt to give the movie more depth as well as a broader appeal. The fact that the first movie was such a hit as well as being reviewed well has meant that Blum has allowed the change of genre as well as expanding the movie, however the results were less than stellar with this new movie making a third less than the original, costing double and not being reviewed very well either, this would appear to kill the franchise before it really got going. 

I have made the point before but the past ten years has been a bonanza for genre movies, especially horror, not only does there seem to be more being produced than ever before, especially with the advent of cheap film making equipment, more quality filmmakers entering the genre as well as more production companies realising there is money to be made, especially with the increase in online streaming services. This is where Jason Blum and his Blumhouse production company has entered the market finding a cost/revenue model that works for them, partnering with a major distribution partner in Universal and not limiting itself to theatrical projects, but also partnering with Netflix. In fact, this year Blumhouse will have released nine movies over a variety of mediums their most ever, including the follow to the Oscar winning “Get Out” (2017) in Jordan Peele’s hit “Us” (2019), a belter of a cross-genre film. What is even more impressive is that all the movies that they have released have made enough money to all be profitable which is something few other production companies is able to claim.

“Happy Death Day 2U” starts with college student Ryan who wakes up in his car on Tuesday, September 19. Returning to his dorm room, he walks in on his roommate Carter and Carter’s girlfriend Tree. He resumes work on an experimental quantum reactor with fellow students Samar and Dre. After Bronson, the school dean, shuts down the project for triggering several power outages, Ryan is murdered by someone dressed as Babyface, and wakes up again on Tuesday the 19th. Tree explains her experience reliving Monday the 18th, and she and Carter agree to help Ryan. They learn the reactor was responsible for creating the loop. If you have seen the earlier movie then you know that there is more restarting the story to come as well as twists especially with this movie as it involves a multiverse arc that is not only complex but leaves open the door for more stories, which is a blessing as well as a curse.

“Happy Death Day” written and directed by Christopher Landon is not a bad movie at all, in fact I did enjoy it but in creating a sequel it meant that it could not be exactly the same as the first which was a novel idea to begin with so adding a dci-fi component, from the outside looks like it makes complete sense, especially when you have someone as charismatic and naturally funny as star Jessica Rothe. To his credit Landon is a very experienced screenwriter of genre movies so having him take over the writing as well as directing seems like a good movie but this movie ultimately deteriorates from the opening going to a place that is not wholly original or unfortunately compelling for an audience to follow. The movie itself with an increase in budget means more characters as well as more effects which it uses but it all seems squandered, again a crime in a movie like this that essentially ups the ante but does not really serve the story at all. Don’t get me wrong there are some really nice moments mostly those are picked up from the first movie, especially with Tree’s sorority and her boyfriend’s friends which are all great. When a Blumhouse movie hits it is not because of the budget or stars, it all comes down to plot and narrative which is exactly where this one falls down.

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