'Happy Death Day 2U' is Horrifyingly Humorous, and I Don't Usually Like Horror Movies

Warning: Contains content related to death and suicide.

It is my nature to avoid horror films. Like Seabiscuit, I am easily spooked. I was unable to sleep for upwards of three days after watching the And Then There Were None stage play. Naturally, the last place you would expect me to end up is in a movie theater at the release of the new slasher film Happy Death Day 2U, but it was free and I am a cheapskate. I brought my friend Rob who has god awful taste in movies. To provide scale, his favorite movie is Jawbreaker, which received a whopping 7% on Rotten Tomatoes. When he described the plot, it was so awful I thought he was making it up. I digress. I am shocked and horrified at myself but after watching Happy Death Day 2U, I am choosing to recommend the film.

Happy Death Day 2U is the sequel to 2017’s Happy Death Day. In the first film, a college student named Tree (Jessica Rothe) is murdered on the night of her birthday but wakes up the previous morning. She relives her birthday and is murdered repeatedly until she identifies her killer. In this riveting sequel, Tree finds herself stuck in a similar time loop in an alternate dimension where a new killer is also targeting her friends. Please feel free to step away for a moment to absorb the complexities of this plot.

Welcome back. I missed you.

While watching the movie, I found that I was not terrified. There was some emphasis on stabbing people with screwdrivers and such, but it was juxtaposed with dialogue such as “You’re screwed!” as said stabbing occurred. Horror was overthrown by humor. While the original slasher film emphasized Tree solving her murders, the sequel let the viewer focus on how Tree handled her friends and situation. In order to give Carter (Israel Broussard) and his rocket scientist roommate (Phi Vu) enough time to repair the time loop, Tree must kill herself repeatedly to reset the day. In an ironic twist, Tree becomes her own slasher.

Full disclosure, I did not see the first Happy Death Day partly because it looked terrifying and partly because Rob said it was “a fantastic movie.” I just dove straight into the sequel after reading the Wikipedia summary. Director Christopher Landon specified that the sequel’s intent was to help explain the unanswered questions from the first film. Why is Tree stuck in a time loop? Is that the Josh from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before? There were numerous references, plot points, and running gags related to part one. Do not repeat my mistakes. Being familiar with the first movie will enhance your viewing experience.

Like any masterpiece, Happy Death Day 2U left me with some questions. What college selects a creepy baby for their school mascot? The school is placing a murder set up in the student body’s lap. Also, Tree had a sizeable smear of black eyeliner under her eye for the entire film. I wanted to reach through the screen and offer her a Neutrogena wipe. Issues aside, this movie featured great humorous performances. Rachel Matthews plays a walking sorority stereotype, Danielle, that you are amused by her as much as you hate her. Jessica Rothe delivers as a character on the brink of emotional instability and she can deadpan like nobody’s business. All in all, this movie was ridiculous. I suggest you enter knowing this, embrace the absurdity, and accept it as a fun slasher satire.

When the closing credits had rolled, people chattered as they made their way to the exits. A girl behind Rob and I said, “That was an objectively terrible movie.”

Before I could say anything Rob leaned over.

“I have no idea what any of these people are talking about. I enjoyed every minute of that.”

I agreed in my head. Saying I had liked it out loud would have given him too much satisfaction.  


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