I watched both of these movies back to back, and it was my first viewing for each. If you can spare the excess time, I would definitely recommend viewing Happy Death Day and Happy Death Day 2U in a row, as the two form one cohesive storyline.
So, neither is exactly a horror movie as I expected. There are “slasher” elements involved in the plot, a couple of jump scares here and there, but mostly both are more of a mystery/thriller.
Happy Death Day:
“A college student must relive the day of her murder over and over again, in a loop that will end only when she discovers her killer’s identity.”
There’s not much that I don’t like about this film. It’s well written, definitely well directed, and even the majority of the acting is pretty decent. Even the twists aren’t glaringly obvious.
The whole “re-living your day until you get it right” concept isn’t exactly original, having been done to perfection in Groundhog Day, but it would normally be used in a comedy.
HDD keeps it pretty straightforward, making it very simple to follow. We are never given any scientific explanation of why the time loop has occurred, we just know it has happened, and we watch as our heroine, Tree Gelbman tries to figure her way out of it. Simple and effective.
After watching it, I’m not surprised that it was so successful. And most of the credit should be placed with the writers. It would have been so easy to let this get out of hand and over the top, but they kept a leash on it. There’s also a decent twist towards the end, which they dangle in our faces for the entire duration of the movie. Well played.
Spoiler warning… Tree finally beats the time loop, and lives happily ever after.
For a few hours at least… queue the sequel.
Happy Death Day 2U:
This begins minutes after the end of the first movie, with seamingly minor character, Ryan Phan, trapped in a time loop of his own.
“Tree Gelbman discovers that dying over and over was surprisingly easier than the dangers that lie ahead.”
This sequel was a little harder to follow than the first. This time around they do try to add scientific reasoning for the time paradox, and it’s all a little silly. While we are tricked into thinking Tree will help Ryan beat his own loop, it’s ultimately her that is thrust straight back into reliving the same day from the first film over and over.
Again, the writing and direction is pretty good, and the cast is identical to the first. Even as it gets a little convoluted, I still found myself enjoying this sequel for what it was.
There is a few laughs in this one, but nothing that takes away from the overall tone, which sticks to that of mystery/thriller, with added sci-fi elements this time around.
It’s not a necessary sequel, but it is a good follow up, done in a clever way.
One of the only issues I had is that they introduce an interesting plot device where Tree actually shows internal signs of her previous murders/deaths. As something to add conflict, I really like the idea, but it’s under-utilised and ultimately nothing comes of it. And that can be said for each movie, as it pops up in both.
Written by Rick Trewin