A sequel that cheats death

Third row from bottom, from left: Phi Vu as Ryan, Jessica Rothe as Tree Gelbman, Israel Broussard as Carter, Sarah Yarkin as Dre, and Suraj Sharma as Samar in "Happy Death Day 2U," written and directed by Christopher Landon.

By Paul Hall

The year was 2017, and a little film called Happy Death Day hit the screen. I was shocked that this out-of-left-field teen horror/comedy found a way to entertain me and give me that much enjoyment. So the sequel Happy Death Day 2U can’t find a way to do it again — can it?

Tree (Jessica Rothe) is back, and she has put the nightmare of her birthday — which she relived in a time loop until she successfully prevented her own murder — behind her and is focusing on her new relationship with Carter (Israel Broussard). But it’s happening again to someone else: Carter’s friend Ryan (Phi Vu), who is stuck reliving the day after Tree’s birthday.

Tree wants to help, but when her efforts put her back inside that repeated birthday in a different universe, well, get ready for your minds to be blown as our little horror/comedy turns into a sci-fi parallel-universe romp with a twist or two and some good-natured fun along the way.

I never expected to like this sequel as much as I did. In fact, the day after viewing it, I ran to my library and watched the first film yet again, and it was amazing. All of my thoughts about the viewing I just completed were verified. The filmmakers do a magical job of arranging the pieces from the two movies into a cohesive puzzle. Viewed together, they feel like a really cool and delightful unison of horror, comedy and science fiction thrown together in a magical recipe.

I loved seeing Rothe back on the screen and experiencing the way that writer/director Christopher Landon organized the pieces. The film makes the genre bigger than itself. It’s not just a rehash of your typical slasher film. In fact, this new installment is hardly a horror film at all.

It’s such a fun ride, but for once, I must insist you see Happy Death Day before you experience this sequel. Without knowledge of the original, this film is just another average entry in the movie landscape. Sure, they try to rehash the first film in a 30-second montage, but there is so much more to take in.

And yes, there is an extra mid-credits scene to show where the franchise may eventually head. Stick around for all of it — I did. And then, see the first film again, and then see this film again, and then — well, you get the point.

Paul’s Grade: B+

Happy Death Day 2U
Rated PG-13
Stars: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu
Director: Christopher Landon

Brought to you by the publishers of TV Guide, the ultimate TV resource packed with celebrity news and commentary on what’s new and what’s good to watch. Get TV Guide at 88% off the cover price: call 800-866-1400 or visit tvguidemagazine.com. ©TV Guide 2019.


How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Rated PG
Voices of: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, F. Murray Abraham
Director: Dean DeBlois
Hiccup discovers that Toothless isn’t the only Night Fury left and must find the secret dragon utopia known as the Hidden World to keep all of the dragons safe.

Run the Race
Rated PG
Stars: Tanner Stine, Kristoffer Polaha, Mykelti Williamson
Director: Chris Dowling
Two athletic brothers who have very different personalities face a life-altering challenge. Together, they will realize that faith and family can overcome any obstacles put in their path.