According to Randy Meeks of the ‘Scream’ series there’s a couple of rules for horror sequels. There’s always a bigger body count and the death scenes are always more elaborate, more blood and more gore. If you want your sequel to become a franchise though, well, that’s still unclear but could ‘Happy Death Day 2U’ prove a success spring boarding off the momentum of its original film from a couple of years ago?
Well it certainly abides by those first two rules as Tree (Jessica Rothe) finds herself back in the ‘Groundhog Day’ style time loop from the first film, hoping to evade the blade of Babyface again, and again, and again. It takes a while to get into the main storyline though, initially throwing a lot of plot developments and new ideas around before eventually settling on one main concept. It’s predictably convoluted but does enough to answer audiences questions and makes enough sense to be able to buy into it. However, the film’s initial premise it presents is possibly better than the eventual one that it decides to run with. Nonetheless it’s a riot from start to finish being even more of a mixture of genres than before. There definitely isn’t as much horror as the first film or what audience might expect there to be. This can’t be a criticism though, this is the direction writer and director Christopher Landon has taken it and it should be accepted for what it is and not what viewers want it to be. The insane concoction of comedy, time travel, science fiction, drama and horror somehow works creating a thoroughly entertaining, creative and whilst heavily inspired still a rather unique slasher.
The main reason the film is successful in bringing its bonkers concept to life is thanks to the spirited cast and their ability to sell it to audiences. Jessica Rothe is once again awesome in the leading role and with this second performance has fully cemented her status as a modern slasher scream queen. The film whilst always enjoyable does feel a little aimless until she takes centre stage but once she does the pace never drops, showcasing her talent for driving narratives forward and keeping viewers engaged. This sequel gives further opportunity for the supporting characters from the first film and allows for some interesting and often hilarious developments. Tree’s super bitchy sorority sister Danielle, played by the brilliant Rachel Matthews stands out amongst the supporting cast with Matthews making the most of every second of screen time she gets. The whole ensemble work well together though and the nature of this film presents the cast and Landon with endless possibilities of where to take these characters keeping things fresh and surprising.
In some ways ‘Happy Death Day 2U’ could have benefited from the simplicity of the first film but this sequel isn’t happy to settle, instead ambitiously pursuing exposition and development from what happened in the original story. The lack of horror will disappoint some fans but this element bookends the film nicely with a more sci-fi comedy centre taking hold. Jessica Rothe is the shining, screaming star of the show though and thanks to her enthusiasm alongside that of her co-stars they make this convoluted slasher sequel so much fun to watch, and leaves us desperately hoping that it’s achieved Randy’s mystery rule for becoming a franchise!
Written by Hamish Calvert
Rating – 8/10
Question: What is your favourite slasher film series?
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