(2019) Horror Comedy (Blumhouse) Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin, Rachel Matthews, Ruby Modine, Steve Zissis, Charles Aitken, Laura Clifton, Missy Yager, Jason Bayle, Caleb Spillyards, Jimmy Gonzales, Peter Jaymes Jr., Rob Mello, Kenneth Israel, James W. Evermore, Johnny Balance, Tenea Intriago. Directed by Christopher Landon
The sequel to the 2017 reasonably entertaining Happy Death Day is less reasonably entertaining, although it’s not for a lack of ambition. Landon decides to not only explain why plucky heroine/bitchy sorority girl Tree (Rothe) is stuck in a time loop (did anyone really care?) and adds elements of sci-fi as Tree not only finds herself stuck in the same original time loop, but in an alternate dimension in which the identity of her killer has changed. Now she not only has to suss out the identity of the new person who wants to do her in, but find a way to get back to her original dimension.
Savvy readers will no doubt already spot what the problem is with the movie here; in trying to keep track of the dimensional shifts, time shifts and of course the whodunit, (or more precisely, who keeps dunnit) the script becomes needlessly complex. I admire Landon for trying to do something a lot different with the sequel than what he did with the original, but he doesn’t really pull it off.
The horror elements are de-emphasized and the sci-fi elements are highlighted, but the movie is at heart comedic and Rothe remains the centerpiece. She’s a talented lady, although she’s less bitchy here than she was in the first film and so she loses a bit of her edge, but makes up for it by her figuring out decidedly offbeat methods of offing herself. That only holds the interest so long before it gets repetitive, no matter how imaginatively Tree does herself in (men will particularly like her jumping out of an airplane without a parachute but wearing only a bikini – Rothe and the producers have a firm grasp on what brings the target audience into theaters (or in a more contemporary vein, selecting it from the VOD service menu). Unfortunately, this is a step down from the original, but only a slight one. You decide if that’s a deal breaker.
REASONS TO SEE: It’s most fun when it goes consciously into snarky territory.
REASONS TO AVOID: Overbearing and overloaded.
FAMILY VALUES: The movie has its fair share of violence, some sexual situations, a fair amount of profanity and some mature thematic material.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: In the first film, scenes set in the hospital were filmed in an actual hospital. Since filming wrapped, the hospital had been gutted, so the location had to be recreated on a set
BEYOND THE THEATER: Amazon, AMC On Demand, AppleTV, Fandango Now, Google Play, Max Go, Microsoft, Movies Anywhere, Redbox, Vudu, YouTube
CRITICAL MASS: As of 7/18/20: Rotten Tomatoes: 71% positive reviews. Metacritic: 57/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Retroactive
FINAL RATING: 5/10
NEXT: Kaye Ballard: The Show Goes On