Happy Death Day 2U

 

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A nonsensical sequel to the engaging horror spoof Happy Death Day proves a bracing antidote to the pearls of the awards’ season.

   

Happy Death Day 2U

Quantum sickness: Phi Vu experiences déjà vu, déjà vu

  

Unlike Bill Murray’s Phil Connors in Groundhog Day (1993), Tree Gelbman's daily ritual is to be stabbed to death by a masked assailant. At least, that was the thrust of Happy Death Day (2017), a meta, rather fun genre piece. The basic premise, likewise explored in Source Code (2011) and Edge of Tomorrow (2014), has a danger of being repetitive, though. And the problem would only be exacerbated in a sequel. So what to do? Well, to his credit, the writer-director Christopher Landon has taken his follow-up in a whole new direction, albeit one he doesn’t appear to be qualified to execute.

 

Whereas Happy Death Day was a horror film with a wicked sense of humour, this is a farce with a mean streak. The accent here is on the parodic, while the tone itself veers into sci-fi comedy, like John Hughes’ Weird Science (1985). In fact, the horror aspect has all but been jettisoned: there’s not a single scare in the movie. Furthermore, Bear McCreary's lamentable score and the broad playing of the cast reduces the whole thing into a bastard child of The Big Bang Theory, without the wit.

 

Predictably, the sequel starts with a character waking up and encountering a series of eccentric incidents that we know we will witness again. This time, our victim is Ryan Phan (Phi Vu) who, after disturbing Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) and Carter Davis (Israel Broussard) in the midst of a matutinal clinch, ends up being stabbed to death by a killer wearing the same Boss Baby mask from the first film. And then he wakes up again… However, being an authority in weird science, Ryan realises that his experimentation with a new quantum machine he has been developing is responsible for a time loop that has propelled him into an alternative reality of his own life. And, by trying to rectify the situation, he locks poor Tree into another cycle of recurrent evisceration.

 

This might have worked had there been a modicum of plausibility, but the gurning of the actors and the disastrous dialogue merely curdles the brew. The result is a chaotic mash-up of Groundhog Day, The Final Destination and Back to the Future 2 in which an escalating array of knife-wielding maniacs with a variety of identities defeats any sense of logic. And to add insult to ignominy, the film throws in a pot-pourri of fortune cookie aphorisms to deflate any edge. Remember, viewer, it’s never too late to change.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Rachel Matthews, Suraj Sharma, Charles Aitken, Phi Vu, Ruby Modine, Steve Zissis, Sarah Yarkin, Laura Clifton, Missy Yager, Jason Bayle.

 

Dir Christopher Landon, Pro Jason Blum, Screenplay Christopher Landon, Ph Toby Oliver, Pro Des Bill Boes, Ed Ben Baudhuin, Music Bear McCreary, Costumes Whitney Anne Adams.

 

Blumhouse Productions-Universal Pictures.

100 mins. USA. 2019. Rel: 13 February 2019. Cert. 15.