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Happy Death Day 2U – A surprisingly well-wrapped present

Sequel to the 2017, surprise hit film by Christopher Landon, and  brings back alums: Jessica Rothe as Theresa “Tree” Gelbman, Israel Broussard as Carter Davis and Ruby Modine as Lori Spengler, while early screen viewers took a big bite of what was to come, in a packed house at the Graumans Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, CA. 

Co-hosted by American Cinematheque and Beyond Fest, screeners were treated to an opening contest of cake eating, chasing the donkey with a pin, screening of the original film, a Q&A with director, Christopher Landon, star Jessica Rothe, and Co-Producer Ryan Turek before kicking the premiere into high gear with the obligatory birthday chorus, and balloon drop on cheering movie-goers. 

Happy Death Day 2U opens with a different perspective of what unfolded the morning after discovering her roommate Lori (Modine) was behind her death(s) in a violently macabre version of “Groundhog’s Day”. After discovering that the “Babyface Killer” killed again, Tree discovers that the source of her dilemma was a science experiment gone wrong, and is warped into another “loop” but this time in an alternate timeline where she and her friends, including Lori, are now being stalked by “Babyface”. 

While slipping from the grasp of the horror genre the first film started with, this sequel quickly falls into more of a mystery/sci-fi category. With “borrowed” elements of Back to the Future II, Dr. Who, and other classics, this film ties the open ended questions from the first movie, and gift wraps them for an entertained audience. 

Lots of comedic quips, and hilarious ‘death’ scenes as Rothe goes out on a limb to save the day, is a welcome blend, in addition to giving some of the other characters their time to shine. Phi Vu weighs in on the film, showing a bit more background from the assumed stoner-typical college guy in the first movie, to a passionate scientist, and an intricate part to the cast. Rachel Matthews, gives her character Danielle, a bit of depth, who went from Mean Girl-ish snob to lend a more warmingly accepted comedic role whilst retaining her elitist charm. Sacre bleu! Jessica Rothe still shines in this film with a wide array of facial expressions across the emotional spectrum,  that speak clear enough for audiences to understand, especially when faced with some life-altering decisions. The energy and pace of this film, felt as if the entire cast were made to play these roles together. 

Overall it was a fun film, though the horror element took a back seat in this one. The 1hr 40 min run time flew by quickly, entertainingly without drag, and  screeners responded back with laughs, and thunderous applause. Piece of advice, after unwrapping your visit to this movie, there’s a bonus present to be had, so stay through the credits.