Here at the Surgeons School of Horror there are some key elements that make up a good sequel.
- It stays faithful to what was set up in (the spirit of) the original.
- It offers something new that adds to the original. It needs to feel right and makes you say, “Yeah, that fits!” without contradicting it.
- And the tipping point in shifting from a great sequel into an awesome one is that it must stand on its own as an individual film.
Highlander 2 for example completely ignored the rules as to why they were immortal in Highlander 1 = Bad movie.
Escape From LA is a literal rehash of Escape From New York = Bad movie.
Where as Aliens explored and expanded the mythology of the xenomorph whilst making a film that stands alone, which is fantastic and feels like it sits comfortably within the universe that Ridley Scott set up = Great movie.
So, where does Happy Death 2U fit into this equation?
Well, lets take a quick snapshot of our original review from its predecessor:
Murdered on her birthday, college student wakes up to find that she is stuck in a time loop in true Groundhog Day style and must relive the day all over again and can only break out of this vortex by finding her murderer.
It was a cool premise with some black comedy thrown in to boot to keep the viewer connected. Sure it had its flaws, particularly with continuity left, right, and centre. At the time I found it hard to connect with and treated it as a fairly middle of the road movie but it resonated with the younger generation who understood the humour and the college satire that was injected into the lead protagonist, Tree’s plight.
So with a successful first outing, Director Christopher Landon and producer Jason Blum felt that there was enough material there to warrant a second trip into the time loop with a sequel.
So going back to our rules for what makes a successful sequel how does it fair.
- Does it stay faithful to the original?
Yes and no.
Yes, because it does keep up with the rules applied with Tree finding herself, trapped in a time loop again and it amps up the comedy element this time around more successfully I felt.
No, because it loses the horror element and steps firmly into sci-fi territory which may lose some of the original fans… but having said that and to use our Alien / Aliens analogy again, the original movie was a sci-fi horror, where as the sequel was more of a sci-fi action movie, so there’s no reason that you can’t shift genre and still make it successful.
- Does it add anything to the original that feels right?
Hell yes! And this is HDD2U’s trump card. Where fans of the original maybe disappointed with the shift in genre, the writers stay within the boundaries of believability by throwing in the McGuffin of Carter’s roommate Ryan, who has invented a reactor that sucks Tree into said time loop with the added parallel universe jump to he mix.
Tree still has to hunt down a killer, but this time around is faced with a few complex life choices.
- So, does it stand on its own as a stand-alone movie? Not really, as it heavily relies on the original to tie things together.
The name of the game is fun in this movie. Whilst it steers away from the horror element, there is enough humour and drama in the mix to make this an incredibly entertaining feature that not only supports the original, but may even surpass it in some people’s eyes.
Oh and stick around for a mid credits scene that potentially opens up the universe even further.
– Antony Yee and Saul Muerte