Happy Death Day 2U (2019): ‘A Step Back in Horror Filmmaking’ – A Film Review



2018 was an amazing year for horror. After a sea of American films pandering to a very unoriginal and tried and done already, jump scare after jump scare. Horror hasn’t exactly seen much of a powerful presence in the US until 2018 came along with a few more original films. Happy Death Day 2U is a sequel that is not amongst any of these films. Not the European progressive and distinctively creepy films like Raw and Goodnight Mommy; and not the well thought out films of Asia, like The Wailing; or even Asia’s truly over the top and original Horrors either, like the recent Meatball Machine Kodoku, not even amongst the best of US Horror! Happy Death Day was perhaps a step back into the Teenage Slasher films like I Know What You Did Last Summer, where Slashers trailed off into death. But we seem to be having a franchise, as the Teen Rom Com with a touch of Horror retelling of Groundhog Day is back with Happy Death Day 2U.


The Tones and the Sequels

So with sequels there is a certain amount of… having to take it with a pinch of salt. It will have to continue the sins of the original – to some degree. Some sequels have been able to turn around some of those sins, managing to do something with what came before, but it is usually an uphill struggle. Happy Death Day 2U struggles with its plot and tone and it is hampered by underwhelming, cheesy or out of place dialogue. The film writes itself into holes that cause scenes that are just there for plot and aren’t purposeful on reflection at all. The best way to try to understand and enjoy the films direction is actually to understand it is a dark romantic comedy aimed at twelve year olds and not looking to be anything but stupid – as it delights on a simple level.


What Acting We Have

Having said that, the performances of the cast go a long way to take these moments into something with substance – well approaching substance. The characters are likeable and passionately driven enough to push the narrative forward. There are some unfortunate exceptions with side characters, though most are built for laughs and do, at least, manage the light hearted tone. It’s not for laughs as such, but for a comedically light bit of tension release. This paired with the film’s sometimes effective special effects means that the film isn’t just an exercise in antagonising their audiences – Happy Death Day 2U comes close though.



Perhaps it was never meant to be. We’d always get some films that just want to play it safe, or even thought that the sea of jump scare-full films were getting something right. When unfortunately for them, most horrors can and will be looking to take the genre into new, exciting and terrifying directions. Happy Death Day 2U is not one of them and it is barely even a horror in itself. Back to the teen slashers but with more annoying teen film in them for good measure, Happy Death Day 2U can fall amongst the Fantastic Fours of popular contemporary film genres.



After the events of Happy Death Day Tree Gelbam (Jessica Rothe)finds herself crossed dimensions and back in the repeating death day.




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A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.


Films Mentioned

Fantastic Four (d. Josh Trank UK/Germany/USA 2015)

Goodnight Mommy (d. Severin FialaVeronika Franz Austria 2014)

Groundhog Day (d. Harold Ramis USA 1993)

Happy Death Day (d. Christopher Landon USA 2017)

Happy Death Day 2U (d. Christopher Landon USA 2019)

I Know What You Did Last Summer (d. Jim Gillespie USA 1997)

Meatball Machine Kodoku (d. Yoshihiro Nishimura Japan 2017)

Raw (d. Julia Ducournau France/Belgium/Italy 2016)

The Wailing (d.Hong-jin Na South Korea/USA 2016)


Further Reading



Official Site

Interview with Cast and Crew

Interview with Jessica Rothe and Israel Broussard

Interview with Christopher Landon

Behind the Scenes

34 Things You Missed


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The Predator (2018): ‘And What Went Wrong?’ – A Film Review


This was an analytical review of….


Happy Death Day 2U (d. Christopher Landon USA 2019) 

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