A good year since “Happy Deathday” was released from cinemas worldwide HAPPY DEATHDAY 2U a continuation. And it has absolutely nothing to do with its predecessor. Whether that’s good or bad, we’ll reveal in our review.
The Plot Summary
The equally smart and scatterbrained student Ryan (Phi Vu) is annoyed: He had to sleep in his car that smelled of cheese feet because his roommate Carter (Israel Broussard) wanted to make out with biology student Tree (Jessica Rothe) undisturbed. Completely crumpled and unrested from the night in the car, Ryan dutifully, although not fully awake, dedicates himself to his complex science project, which, however, robs the college of massive amounts of electricity, which is why Ryan and his fellow students receive orders from the very top to abandon the project. Annoyed, even shocked, Ryan wants to somehow complete the project, but that doesn’t happen. He is murdered. Or not? Suddenly he wakes up in his car, which smells of cheese feet, where he spent the night because his roommate Carter wanted to make out with biology student Tree (Jessica Rothe) undisturbed. Stop! Is Ryan stuck in a time loop now? What is going on here?!
Movie explanation of the ending
Even if Harold Ramis’ legendary philosophical-comedy Bill Murray vehicle Groundhog Day didn’t invent the concept of a person stuck in a time loop, the 1993 production certainly popularized it. And sustainably shaped. After more than a decade of mostly uninspired, calculated-looking “Groundhog” copies, we have now arrived in a cinematic era in which filmmakers who grew up with Ramis’ films are active. Or at least who were accompanied by him over a long period of time. New “Groundhog” films come from people who have internalized and revere the “original.” So it can’t be a coincidence that the number of productions of this kind worth seeing has increased in recent years. In addition to “‘Groundhog’ as a sci-fi war film” (“Edge of Tomorrow”), there was also “”Groundhog’ as a youth drama about regret” (“When you die, your whole life passes you by,” they say them”) and “‘Groundhog’ as a college slasher suitable for young people”.
Student Ryan (Phi Vu) is stuck in a time loop. Or?
The latter film is the Blumhouse production “Happy Deathday,” which grossed $125.5 million worldwide in fall 2017 on a budget of less than $5 million. Accompanied by positive reviews and good word of mouth, the comedic “Young woman is murdered on her birthday, wakes up again the same morning, is murdered again, wakes up again, and so on, and so on, which is why she tries to unmask her killer “film even further expands its fan base in home cinema. Of course, Blumhouse is taking the path that almost all horror films that have made a profit take: a sequel has been announced. “Happy Deathday 2U” is now in cinemas less than a year and a half after its predecessor. A rush that usually causes concern if the second part was not planned from the start. The film world has already had to endure too many hastily written, passionless sequels to still trust blindly. But “Happy Deathday 2U” is not one of those sequels that simply twists two or three smaller elements of its predecessor, otherwise relies on simple repetition and hopes that the audience is already saturated with it. “Happy Deathday 2U” is not “‘Groundhog’ as a youth-friendly college slasher sequel from the assembly line”. “Happy Deathday 2U” is instead “‘Groundhog’ as a G-rated college slasher that mutates into other films…”
“Happy Deathday” director Christopher Landon (“Scouts vs. Zombies”), who also reworked Scott Lobdell’s screenplay, returns to directing “Happy Deathday 2U” and now makes this film series completely his own. It was Landon who incorporated the romantic element into the plot. Now it’s Landon who wrote the script from scratch and he further intensifies the emotional component of the story. Landon also increases the time travel component in “Happy Deathday 2U”: “Happy Deathday” is another comedic slasher with a “groundhog” gimmick, whose shocks and kills are kept genre-friendly. “Happy Deathday 2U”, on the other hand, significantly reduces the slasher content in order to turn the gimmick into a larger cinematic component. The director and author does this at the beginning without a clear announcement. Landon, working with a budget of $9 million this time around, takes great pleasure in keeping his audience guessing at the level of genre and concept. He repeatedly suggests, staging and tonally, that we are in this or that kind of story, only to then pull the rug out from under us. “Happy Deathday 2U” is therefore full of misdirection, especially in the first act, which, depending on the perspective, can just as easily seem like inaccurate storytelling, as story elements and supposed running gags are built up that ultimately fizzle out.
Together with her friends, Tree (Jessica Rothe) tries to get to the bottom of what’s going on.
However, Landon takes a coherent approach to building up the irritating elements – which aspects of the film disappear and why are coherent in terms of content and there is also a very unique, twisted pleasure to be gained from the way Landon distorts the film several times in order to retain the “Groundhog” gimmick yet to avoid repetitions of the “sequel unimaginative” brand. These conceptual entertainment qualities of “Happy Deathday 2U” gradually fade into the background as Landon gradually becomes Jessica Rothe (“Forever My Girl”) as Tree Gelbman comes back into focus – and with it her enormous comedic talent. Rothe has great facial expressions, which she was able to show in the first film, and which Landon exploits even more intensively in part two: several parts of the film rely specifically on Rothe as Tree Gelbman either being pissed off, completely angry, extremely confused or sinking into deep gallows humor as well as making a sarcastic look out of the laundry. And these scenes are all wonderfully funny – Rothe finds exactly the right zone between “so exaggerated that it’s funny” and “enough restraint that it’s still comprehensible and doesn’t turn into a rubber-faced cartoon number.” Landon and editor Ben Baudhuin always combine Rothe’s freakouts into snappy sequences of scenes, sometimes even into macabre-humorous montages.
All of this is held together by the emotional component mentioned above: “Happy Deathday” tried to some extent (albeit somewhat woodenly) to explore the question “What if you could repeat the same day over and over again?” on a character-centric level , instead of just for gags, kills and action. “Happy Deathday 2U” makes this one of the dramaturgical and tonal mainstays of the film – and Landon does it very well: when the quick dialogue jokes and situational comedy pause for more vulnerable dialogue from the characters, it is always justified in terms of content and credible. The fact that this succeeds is largely due to the fact that Landon keeps an eye on the vocabulary and personality of his characters instead of randomly putting moralizing speeches into their mouths. In addition, Landon cleverly brushes viewing habits against the grain and, like so many other films of recent years, does not summarize the moral of his film shortly before the end, i.e. exactly when it is already clearly visible. No, he uses turning points so that his characters realize what lesson they could learn from their situation in a “what should we do now?” exchange of ideas. Equipped with a functioning emotional backbone, “Happy Deathday 2U” then enters a turbulent final act full of gags and surprises. And even if composer Bear McCreary overemphasizes some sequences musically, what remains is a very enjoyable, unpredictable sequel that adheres to the laws of its predecessor in equal parts and boldly reinterprets them.
Who is behind the baby mask this time?
Conclusion: “Happy Deathday 2U” relies on having seen “Happy Deathday” and being open to taking unexpected paths in the sequel. If these requirements are met, “Happy Deathday 2U” is very refreshing, strange “groundhog” fun.
“Happy Deathday 2U” can be seen in many USA cinemas from February 14, 2019.