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Review: Happy Death Day 2U

Happy Death Day 2U
8 10

PLOT: It's GROUNDHOG DAY all over again when sorority sister Tree Gelbman finds herself caught back within the same time traveling loop as two years prior, baby faced serial killer and all.

REVIEW: Two years ago Blumhouse released HAPPY DEATH DAY unto the masses, the sweetest little riff on GROUNDHOG DAY the world had ever seen. Told from the perspective of a self-centered sorority sister, a girl named Tree Gelbman kept experiencing the same day over and over, each one ending in a horrific nightmare as she was hunted down by a baby masked serial killer and brutally murdered at the end of each night, thus resulting in the same day to begin anew. Tree's only option was to die again and again until she figured out who her killer was, thus solving the case and ending her torment once and for all. At least, she thought that was the end.

Trapped in time, surrounded by evil, and low on lives, Tree Gelbman finds herself caught within the same looping timeline yet again two years later in HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U. The bigger problem is, this time, she's not the only one dying at the end of each day -- her family and friends are facing the axe as well, only they may not regenerate when the morning bell tolls. Now, it's up to Tree to sacrifice herself again and again until she finally cracks the case and stops the loop for good -- a solution she's literally dying to figure out.

As was the case with the original film, Christopher Landon returns to direct the sequel, a movie which turns out to be a surprisingly touching story about love and grief and moving on. In this movie, the reason behind the looping timeline is finally revealed, a.k.a. a major plot hole from the the first film is finally being addressed. It turns out that a group of science majors at school have built a time machine, one which was supposed to slow down time, but actually winds up looping it instead. In an attempt to wipe out an ill-created dopelganger, the machne is reset and sends Tree and her friends into an alternate dimension, one which still loops, but everything is slightly off -- with the resurrection of some characters who are very much dead.

Heartfelt, hilarious, and another shining showcase of star Jessica Rothe's talent, HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U plays like a mashup of BACK TO THE FUTURE PART II and SCREAM 2. Tree is facing the same repeating day yet again, but her experience gains a meta twist from the knowledge she's already gained about this time traveling scenario. This is both a plus and minus for the film. On the one hand, the fact that both Tree and the audience already know what's going on means that there's less time spent unveiling the mystery and more time attributed to the laughs and tender moments between the main players. It's a movie you wouldn't expect to cry in, yet you might face the end credits with damp cheeks.

However, because there's less time spent identifying the killer (who seems to be relegated to the one location of the hospital this time around) and more time spent working algorithms and watching Tree off herself in various hysterical and increasingly painful ways, the result is a product that falls less into the realm of a horror movie. The first film was already a hard PG-13, and though it played shockingly well for a slasher, it was pretty obvious that the off-screen deaths attributed to the more innocent rating. Now, it's not just obvious that the deaths are mostly off-screen, it's honestly hard to even call this installment a slasher, as Tree kills herself more than any masked murderer stalking the school grounds in infant attire.

Sequels are generally known to be watered down reimaginings of the first movie, especially when it comes to the horror genre. The second entry in a series is usually a goofier version of the first, e.g. EVIL DEAD II, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY'S REVENGE, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2. Yet, although those follow-ups may be on the sillier side, they are still very much horror movies, and some are even gorier than the original entries. All I'm saying is, just know what you're getting into with HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U. Overall, it's arguably a better film than the first, but it's even less of a genre entry than the original, which is an advantage or disadvantage depending on what you're looking for in your horror-comedy. Personally, this writer found it endearing and can't wait to watch it again. And again.

Source: JoBlo.com

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