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Film Review: Happy Death Day 2

Oh dear. You know that feeling when you are maybe 20 minutes in, and you know the whole production looks like it’s going down the toilet, and the couple in the row behind are packing up their snacks and starting to leave, and the three teenagers in front are now just looking at their phones, well that pretty much sums up my experience with Happy Death Day 2 U.

The sequel to Happy Deathday, which wasn’t the best slasher movie in the world, but at least tried to do something a little different, is a dumpster fire of a film, that tries to be many things to many people, and ends ups being a great big nothing. Written and directed by Christopher Landon, the film follows directly from the first affair, and re-introduces us to the characters involved. Actually it starts ok, and the first killing has a good jump scare, and for a minute you think that you are going to be re-treading the original path of the first movie, but then something goes terribly wrong with the plot, and the rest of the film becomes such a jumble, that as a viewer you immediately begin to tune out.

The story tries desperately to come up with a device to explain the loop that Tree Gelbman, played by Jessica Rothe, finds herself, and her class mates trapped in. The film then slides into sci-fi territory, as a pseudo time machine, somehow built in the school by Tree’s nerdy classmates, becomes the catalyst for the ground hog day action occurring all around them. There’s talk of parallel dimensions and time loops, as the cast all play out their various tropes, while delivering some very unfunny dialogue and ridiculous exposition. Certain scenes would not be out of place in a Disney TV show, and the ghost of old Scooby Doo adventures were never far away.

(from left) “Babyface” and Tree (Jessica Rothe) in “Happy Death Day 2U,” written and directed by Christopher Landon.

The pacing is slow, the acting is terrible, the tone is all over the place veering from teen high school comedy, to Sunday afternoon family drama, and the scares are few and far between, and when the do arrive, they are unimaginative, dull and clichéd. A suicide montage, played for laughs, is very awkward, and the baby faced mystery killer makes very little sense when all is said and done. By the third act, things are so out of control, that we get padded extra scenes involving the confiscation of the “time” machine by the head of the school, and the attempts by the pupils to get it back. One of the students disguises themselves as a blind French exchange student to distract the mean teacher, in a scene that is so unfunny that you feel you are watching CBBC. By the end of the film, I had become so disengaged by anything that was happening, that I just wanted the whole thing to be over, but like the main character in this mess, it just seemed to keep on going, and I had no choice but to watch until the bitter end.

This is a film that lacked any real direction. It’s a melting pot of horror, comedy, family drama and science fiction, that fails at each and every turn. The convergence of so many threads makes it sloppy to the point that you actually become aware that this film has no genre to fit into. Who was this made for? Fans of the original will be disappointed as it’s nowhere near as fresh, horror fans will roll their eyes at the lack of any real threat, comedy fans won’t find any of the set pieces funny, and the drama is so tagged on and lifeless to the point of despair. Perhaps if you are under 16, this might pass the night, but honestly, putting your money down for this kind of cheap lazy rubbish is almost insulting. There are better films out there getting limited releases as multi screen cinemas continue to show this kind of trash.

Don’t waste your time or your money.