|Happy Death Day 2U (2019)|
Directed by Christopher Landon.
Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews, Suraj Sharma, Rachel Matthews, Steve Zissis, Charles Aitken, Sarah Bennani, Phi Vu, Laura Clifton.
2019 100 minutes
Rated: (for violence, language, sexual material and thematic elements).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman for TheFrightFile.com, February 13, 2019.
"Happy Death Day 2U" is the ideal sequel to 2017's supremely likable "Happy Death Day
," a film that, like 1989's "Back to the Future Part II," builds upon the original film in fresh, surprising, mind-bending ways. A deliciously witty comedy-horror-sci-fi hybrid with an existential, dramatically resonant undercurrent, it finds its heroine, the once-self-centered, recently redeemed college student Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe), thrust back into a birthday-set time loop reset each time she is killed. Whereas in the first picture she was on a mission to figure out the identity of her killer (hidden behind the mask of the university's baby-faced mascot), this time the stakes are raised ever more: not only is a new killer on the loose, but Tree has found herself in an alternate timeline where her late mother is still alive and boyfriend Carter (Israel Broussard) is going out with stuck-up sorority sister Danielle (Rachel Matthews).
"Happy Death Day 2U" is almost ridiculously fun, a snappy, thoughtful ride with the ability to have viewers uproariously laughing one minute (as in an instantly classic scene where Danielle poses as a blind French exchange student to help out Tree), wiping away tears the next, and on the edge of their seats throughout. Returning writer-director Christopher Landon is a master of tone, juggling absurdist humor with genuinely affecting emotion as our protagonist is faced with tough choices and the prospect of having to say good-bye to her late mother all over again. Returning in the lead role, the effortlessly charismatic Jessica Rothe continues to prove she is a star in the making, selling every last moment. "Happy Death Day 2U" may be a film about a character forced to repetitiously relive the same nightmarish day, but it does anything but creatively repeat itself. Here is a second installment with just as much charm and invention as its wonderfully wicked, feel-good precursor.