Because I’m right and someone needs to say it
By Ashley Wright
Lately, there has been this trend in horror movies where they feel the need to clarify why they’re scary. But what the writers, directors, and producers don’t seem to understand, is that the same rule applies to horror and comedy—if you have to explain it, you are probably doing it wrong.
While there are a slew of recent movies that are guilty of this, the most glaring example is Blumhouse’s horror sequel, Happy Death Day 2U. Of course, there are plenty of recent movies that fall into the same trap, but I only got around to watching the second Happy Death Day this weekend, so it’s the one I currently have the most issues with.
Don’t get me wrong, the first Happy Death Day was dumb. Like, real dumb. But it also knew it was dumb, which is why it worked. No one was buying their tickets in the hopes of exploring the possibilities of quantum physics and parallel universes. Happy Death Day delivered exactly what was expected—a sorority girl going absolutely batshit as her annoying birthday-themed ringtone looped in her own personal hell. It was perfect.
Unfortunately, Happy Death Day 2U seemed to forget everything that made its predecessor work. Not only did they rehash the same story-line (like, literally the same story-line. Tree, the main character, is reliving the EXACT SAME DAY as the first movie), but they added convoluted science to it for no reason. I mean, I guess I can’t say for sure that no physicists were watching as some bizarre form of research into how a time machine could somehow result in a time-loop and alternate dimensions, but I highly doubt it.
I have other gripes with the movie too. For one, they open with Ryan, a relatively minor character from the first movie, going through his own time loop. This approach could have been interesting; following how two different characters process the same weird situations, but they don’t follow through. Ryan only “loops” the one time, before Tree starts her loop again.
I also didn’t like how, by having Tree live through Monday the 18th again, all of the progress from the first movie is made essentially pointless. Why do we care about Tree making amends with her father, breaking off toxic relationships, coming to terms with her mother’s death, and finding love if it’s all erased? The first movie was about Tree growing as a person, the second movie tried to revert her back to the girl she was before.
Tree even comments on this in Happy Death Day 2U, stating how she rationalized the first loop as some cosmic event meant to help her grieve her mother. Only to find out, sike, it was just some dumb college kids and an experiment gone wrong. Now, she has the choice of returning to her original timeline (you know, the one with all her progress) or remaining in an alternate one where her new boyfriend is dating someone else, her mom is still alive, and her previously murderous roommate is still one of her best friends. So, essentially this movie is giving Tree the same choice as the first one but now she doesn’t have to do any of the work.
In conclusion, we need to let horror movies be dumb again. If you go back and watch the classics—Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Friday the 13th—you’ll see what I mean. You don’t always have to know the “why”. Sometimes, it is as simple as a crazy person who wants to kill a bunch of dumb teenagers. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.