Happy Death Day 2U (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Jul 01, 2022
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Happy Death Day 2U (4K UHD Review)

Director

Christopher Landon

Release Date(s)

2019 (May 31, 2022)

Studio(s)

Blumhouse/Universal Pictures (Shout!/Scream Factory)
  • Film/Program Grade: C+
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: A
  • Extras Grade: C+

Happy Death Day 2U (4K UHD)

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Review

In Happy Death Day, a selfish and narcissistic college girl named Tree winds up stuck in a time loop, reliving the events of her birthday over and over again, including her death at the hands of an unknown killer. She eventually ends the loop by outwitting her killer, but also learns to be a better person while falling in love. In the sequel, Happy Death Day 2U, things pick up exactly where they left off. Tree learns that while her loop has been closed, it opened for another student, whose science project gone awry created the original loop. After an accident occurs in which the scientific device in question is used once again, she finds herself back in her original loop, but in another version of her universe where things are different, yet serial killers are still rampant.

When Happy Death Day 2U was announced, many fans of the original were justifiably apprehensive. After all, how much more plot could be squeezed out of a horror-infused time loop premise? Once the repetition ends, the story should be over. Undeterred, director Christopher Landon took up the challenge to create a sequel that not only explains the how and why of the first film, but also re-examines the characters and their relationships with each other, including the revelation that in this version of Tree’s timeline, her Mom is alive and her boyfriend Carter is dating somebody else. There’s also less of an emphasis on the slasher formula and more on situational comedy within a science fiction framework.

In truth, there are effective moments in Happy Death Day 2U, mostly involving Tree and her mother which are genuinely tear-inducing. It’s also neat to see events from the first film from a different angle (ala Back to the Future Part II). Like before, Jessica Rothe is charismatic and likable, and always the best thing about this series. She manages to convey a variety of emotions with relative ease and you’re on her side, regardless of what’s going on in the story. But knowing the how and why of the first film takes something away from it, clever as it is. The story attempts to explain and defend itself in an expository scene early on (which borders on meta), but it cheapens Tree’s original victory. She’s no longer the troubled girl having proved herself worthy of survival. Now she’s a cosmic joke, doomed to live a repetitious existence. We have a sequel in which she must choose a life in which her mother is alive or Carter is her boyfriend... yeah, that’s not even a choice. To add insult to injury, right on the verge of Tree going back to her reality, she and that version of Carter reconnect anyways. It’s part and parcel as to why Happy Death Day 2U doesn’t totally work and detracts from the original film, despite its inventiveness.

Happy Death Day 2U was captured digitally by Toby Oliver primarily in the ARRIRAW codec at 2.8K using ARRI Alexa Mini cameras with Angenieux Optimo Zoom and Cooke S4/i lenses. Additional photography was performed using Phantom Flex4K cameras in CineRAW and Prores 422HQ codecs with Zeiss Ultra Prime lenses. The results were finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Scream Factory’s Ultra HD release is an upsample that has now been graded for high dynamic range (HDR10 being the only option). Unlike the 4K Ultra HD of Happy Death Day, the sequel’s original Blu-ray release from Universal had a little more going for it in terms of quality. As stated in the previous review, digital cinematography has gotten better over time, and as such, Blu-ray releases have appeared less flat. That was definitely the case with Happy Death Day 2U. Still, Scream Factory’s 4K upgrade improves upon that presentation with a more robust color spectrum, thanks to the addition of HDR. Nuances in the palette are enhanced, allowing for much more detail. Flesh tones lean more toward natural pigments than the previous release, which is a stylistic choice of course, but worth noting. Everything is also sharper and more tightly-rendered. Textures are heightened and there are no obvious flaws in the upsampling of the 2K source. The image here bests the original Blu-ray, but the differences might not be obvious at first glance.

Audio options include the same English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track as the previous Blu-ray, as well as a new 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio option, with subtitles in English SDH. Like its predecessor, the 5.1 track is highly aggressive, perhaps more so, slamming various sound effects into the surrounds with frequent movement and careful placement. Dialogue exchanges are clear and Bear McCreary’s score (as well as the music selection) roars to life. LFE activity is also a bit more potent than the first film. The 2.0 option is a much tighter fold-down for those without access to surround sound systems. The previous Blu-ray also included audio options in Spanish and French 5.1 DTS and English Descriptive Video Service, as well as additional subtitles in Spanish and French.

Happy Death Day 2U on 4K Ultra HD sits in a black amaray case with a Blu-ray copy of the film in 1080p and an insert that replicates the original theatrical artwork. The following extras are included on each disc:

DISC ONE: UHD

  • Audio Commentary with Christopher Landon, Jessica Rothe, and Sarah Yarkin

DISC TWO: BD

  • Audio Commentary with Christopher Landon, Jessica Rothe, and Sarah Yarkin
  • Deleted Scene (2:15)
  • Gag Reel (2:35)
  • The Never-Ending Birthday (2:46)
  • Web of Love: Tree’s Nightmare (1:33)
  • Multiverse 101 (2:04)

The new audio commentary was recorded the same day as the commentary for the first film, and now Landon and Rothe are joined by Sarah Yarkin via Skype/Zoom. The results are just as entertaining. Landon and Rothe are at the wheel the majority of the time, but Yarkin occasionally joins in, giving her particular perspective since she isn’t in the film all that much and describes her participation as such. Like the track for the first film, they also fall into the trap of simply watching it and saying nothing, but at the same time, it’s such a casual affair that it’s not that big a deal. It’s like hanging out with old friends, in the best possible way. It once again makes up for the lackluster studio-produced bonus material. This includes a Gag Reel; a Deleted Scene of Tree running into another cop in the hospital, which would have also set up part of the film’s ending; The Never-Ending Birthday, a featurette that interviews some of the cast and crew about ideas for the sequel; Web of Love: Tree’s Nightmare, which explores the relationship between Tree and Carter; and Multiverse 101, a rather useless featurette that recaps and oversimplifies the film’s plot. Unfortunately, the promotional material (trailers, TV spots, etc) couldn’t be included due to home video clearance issues.

Happy Death Day 2U is far from perfect, but it certainly swings for the fences with a different premise and tone that, while not totally successful, nails keeping the characters grounded and exploring them to a greater degree. Scream Factory’s 4K Ultra HD upgrade improves upon the previous presentation of the film, and adds in another enjoyable audio commentary. For fans of this series, it comes highly recommended.

- Tim Salmons

(You can follow Tim on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook. And be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel here.)

 

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