Happy Death Day 2 U is the convoluted sequel to Blumhouse’s surprise hit film sold off the simple genius of its premise: “What if Groundhog Day was a horror movie?” The sequel is patently ridiculous, remarkably schlocky and boldly enters into a whole new dimension of absurdity. But, as far as I’m concerned, that’s the best thing this movie could have done.
The first Happy Death Day is a fun albeit goofy slasher flick that doesn’t have much pretense surrounding itself. It has a clean emotional storyline and some basic moral coding but in general, is just an excuse to have fun with a gimmick and watch our main character, a self-centered sorority girl unthinkably named Tree Gelbman, die many, many times. One thing that Happy Death Day does not do, is offer up a rational explanation for why Tree keeps reliving the same day over and over. This, I imagine, was a source of conflict when the movie made enough money to warrant a sequel, the writers had to think up an explanation for the loop to continue. Their conclusion is some beautifully stupid movie science that launches this simple slasher franchise into a new stratosphere, bringing in multiverse theory, trolley-problem moral scenarios, and a whole slew of wacky genre tropes. And in my opinion, I think it works.
While we are living in an intelligent horror renaissance right now, dumb horror has been awful lately. The success of Insidious and The Conjuring has meant that every low-budget crack at the bat have been an endless sea of mediocre ghost stories with the teen slashers of old having fallen to the wayside. Happy Death Day is the only authentically new slasher franchise of the decade and, as far as I’m concerned, I hope they make eight more movies that grow increasingly convoluted until they eventually reboot the whole thing twenty years from now. It’s a Hollywood tradition. You start with a surprise hit film on a subdued scale and you keep making schlockier and schlockier sequels until Jason eventually goes to space. Happy Death Day 2 U continues this tradition flawlessly. The acting isn’t great, the story makes very little sense (saying the word ‘quantum’ doesn’t make it science) and the deaths are entertaining enough to get by. After all, there’s a suicide montage set to Paramore’s “Hard Times,” how much sillier can you get? There’s not much craft on display here. The movie is lit like a Disney Channel Original movie and the sets literally look like they were borrowed from the CW. But you know what? That’s fine! It’s a dumb horror movie that isn’t trying to trick you into thinking it’s actually scary a la The Nun, it’s just trying to give you a goofy time at the movies and to that I applaud it. Now bring on three more, please.