HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U (2019)

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HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U (2019)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Sequel pics up right after the first flick with Tree (Jessica Rothe) cozying up with Carter (Israel Broussard) and all being well until roommate Ryan (Phi Vu) starts to relive his own murder over and over. Tree finds out her previous predicament and Ryan’s current one are as a result of Ryan and friends science experiment that effects time…just not in the way they planned. An effort to kill the loop sends Tree back to Monday the 18th again, only this time in an alternate universe.  She’s reliving her death all over again, only in this dimension Lori (Ruby Modine) is no longer the killer, Carter is dating Danielle (Rachel Matthews) and her mother is still alive. Can Tree get back to her normal dimension…and does she want to?

As you can guess by the plot description, Happy Death Day 2U sends the slasher elements to the background and focuses more on a Star Trek-ian/Back to the Future-esque tale of alternate timelines and other dimensions. It’s still fun, though shifting the focus also mutes some of the chills and thrills that made the first film such a treat. There is a lot of entertainment to be had and they have fun with the expanded concept, but this seems more like a cinematic episode of The Big Bang Theory with a slasher sub-plot. Christopher Landon again directs well, though this time from his own script and seems to want to play more with the whole alternate timeline thing and guide the story away from the slasher elements. A mid-credits scene hints that a part 3 will veer away even further. There was also a brief flirting with dopplegangers, but that disappears quickly, which is a shame as Tree being stalked by other alternate reality selves sounds like it would have been a hoot. If the film is missing anything, it’s the intensity the slasher elements brought to the table in the first film. The mix was more even in Happy Death Day and this sequel could have used a bit more.

Jessica Rothe is again a blast to watch though she shares the film’s focus with other characters and isn’t always the center of attention. The actress also proves again she is a leading lady with talent and can do drama, comedy and kick some ass, too. Israel Broussard is still charming and likable as Carter. The alternate reality version is pretty much the same guy, except for dating Rachel Matthews’ Danielle, who is a lot nicer in this other dimension. Matthews gets more screen time and gets to perform some slapstick comedy in one of the sillier sequences. Phi Vu gets a far more expanded role and is fun as Ryan and Suraj Sharma and Sara Yarkin play two of his nerdy lab partners/friends.

In conclusion, the sequel is not an equal, but not a disappointment either, unless you were expecting more of a horror film. There are some amusing sequences, some fun character interaction and even a little heart-tugging drama to go with the occasional dips back into slasher territory. On the downside it is slower paced, the killer was easy to guess and horror fans might not be happy with all the science geek quantum this and quantum that mumbo jumbo. Leading lady Jessica Rothe is still at least every bit the firecracker and if there is a three-quel, hopefully she is not pushed to the sidelines or lost in an ensemble piece. A fun movie thought maybe not what you might go in expecting. Stay through the credits for that mid-credits scene.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 baby-faced killers.

 

 

 

 

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BARE BONES: PLEASE STAND BY (2017)

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PLEASE STAND BY (2017)

Story finds Wendy (Dakota Fanning), a once temper-prone, autistic young woman, trying to convince her older sister, Audrey (Alice Eve) that she is ready to come home and can be responsible around Audrey’s baby daughter. At the same time, the Star Trek obsessed Wendy wants to submit a script in a Star Trek script contest sponsored by Paramount Pictures. To enter her script and prove she is a capable and responsible adult, Wendy begins a road-trip to L.A. to deliver her screenplay to the studio, personally, with her panicked counselor (Toni Collette) and worried sister in hot pursuit.

This is a sweet and charming little gem directed by Ben Lewin from script by Michael Golamco, that treats it’s subject with sensitivity, yet without overdosing on melodrama. Fanning’s nerdy Wendy is a very endearing character and it’s actually fun to watch this determined young woman try to overcome the constraints of her condition, accomplish her goals and prove she can be functional and responsible like everyone else. The script never pities it’s subject, just presents them as everyday people who face different challenges than the rest of us. The Star Trek angle is also fun, too, as Wendy can match the biggest nerd in Trek lore and maybe understands the characters better than most. The cast are all exceptional, especially lead Fanning, who really makes Wendy a three dimensional person we can emotionally invest in. A sweet, charming and sometimes fun little gem that treats it’s subject with the respect and sensitivity it deserves. Also stars Happy Death Day’s Jessica Rothe as a devious young mother Wendy encounters on her journey and an appearance by TV legend Marla Gibbs as a sympathetic senior. Highly Recommended.

-MonsterZero NJ

three and one half stars rating

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HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2017…JESSICA ROTHE!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2017…JESSICA ROTHE!

It’s Halloween🎃!…and as it has become tradition, it’s time to announce MonsterZero NJ’s Halloween Hottie of the Year!…
…and our Halloween Hottie of 2017 is the beautiful and very talented Jessica Rothe, who earns this title with her sassy performance in the hit slasher Happy Death Day. Rothe plays smart-ass sorority girl Theresa Gelbman, who is having the worst birthday possible. Someone is trying to kill her…and does, over and over again. Theresa is caught in a Groundhog Day style loop where she keeps waking up on the same morning, repeating the day leading up to her death. The only way this spirited girl can break the chain is by finding out who wants to kill her and stopping them. As Theresa sets out to solve and prevent her own murder, she transforms from snotty mean girl to feisty final girl and we are along for the ride! The Denver, Colorado born actress handles the role like a boss and gives us a smart, sexy heroine to root for, whose sarcastic sense of humor is as kick-ass as she is!

(Click on the highlighted links or on the movie poster to read a review of the hit horror flick that stars  Halloween Hottie of 2017, Jessica Rothe!)

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Jessica Rothe as feisty final girl, Theresa Gelbman!

Jessica’s versatility is on display here as Happy Death Day is a suspense thriller not without some very funny moments and intense action. We’d love to see her back in final girl duties, but she proves that she could probably play in any genre and play it well! So, who knows where we’ll see this charming actress next.

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HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2017 RUNNER UP, ANYA TAYLOR-JOY!

This year was so close that it’s more like a co-winner than a runner up. Anya Taylor-Joy first got our attention in the acclaimed The Witch last year and then again this year in M. Night Shyamalan’s intense and creepy hit thriller Split. In this chilling tale, Anya plays Casey, a young woman who is kidnapped with two other girls by Kevin Wendell Crumb (a brilliant James McAvoy), a man with twenty-three separate personalities who is about to be unleash a horrifying twenty-fourth. Casey must use her own inner pain to strengthen her and find a way to escape her increasingly dangerous captor. Taylor-Joy shows once again that she is star in the making and a very versatile actress.

This year was a tough choice. Both these ladies were great in their roles and really brought it as final girls. If Rothe edged out the win, it was only because of the sheer energy, attitude and sassy sex appeal she brought to her role. Taylor-Joy’s brooding goth girl was excellently portrayed as well and both actresses will surely be delivering more strong work in films to come!

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And don’t forget to check out our previous Halloween Hotties including Dana DeLorenzo, Addison TimlinMelanie PapaliaBriana EviganKatrina BowdenAlexandra DaddarioKatie FeatherstonKatharine IsabelleAmber Heard and Danielle Harris! (just click on their names to go to their pages or simply go to our Halloween Hotties main page!)

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: HAPPY DEATH DAY (2017)

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HAPPY DEATH DAY (2017)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

College student Theresa (Jessica Rothe) is having a really bad day…over and over again. She wakes up in the dorm of a strange guy, she’s mean to those around her, she’s sleeping with one of her professors, it’s a birthday she doesn’t want to face and someone is trying to kill her…and does. But Theresa keeps waking up at the moment of her death, starting the day all over again. She soon realizes that if she is to break the loop, she has to find out who this masked killer is and stop them. Easier said than done if there weren’t so many people who might want her dead.

Obviously, the Groundhog Day routine with reliving the same day over and over has been done to death, but here it’s literally. Director Christopher B. Landon knows we’ve seen it all before and takes the derivative ball and runs with it. Landon is helped by a fun script he co-wrote with Scott Lobdell and a sassy stick of dynamite leading lady in Rothe’s Theresa. As it starts out, Theresa is an unlikable mean girl…though her mean quips are very funny…but as she embarks on her journey of identifying her masked killer and ending this loop, it takes her from snotty sorority girl to sarcastic and feisty heroine. It’s a blast to watch Theresa as she meets each day head on and each time finds a new piece of the puzzle, all the while discovering things about herself. If it sounds corny, it is and Landon knows it and revels in it. He also delivers some solid suspense, some intense action and a few surprises on the road to Theresa’s final confrontation with the killer in her midst. It’s also kind of fun to watch the spunky girl die over and over again in different ways, only to have to do it all again with increasing frustration. The humor and suspense are perfectly mixed here, making it all the more enjoyable. This is a prime example of a filmmaker taking familiar elements and having a good time with them and not just re-using them in a by-the-numbers manner. The result is a fun slasher/thriller with a very hip sense of humor and a heroine to really endear to and root for.

As for our leading lady, Jessica Rothe is having an outright blast with the plot contrivances and owns this flick from start to finish. She introduces us to a mean, snarky, sorority princess and slowly transforms her into a smart, sarcastic and resilient final girl, who grows with each repeat of the ill-fated Monday the 18th. She is firecracker of a leading lady and really makes even the corniest elements of her transformation believable, such as her having the courage and tenacity to face a killer head on. It’s her show and she handles it like a boss. In support is a charming turn by Israel Broussard, as Carter, the boy she wakes up with and bonds with over her dilemma. The two have a nice chemistry on screen and their forming relationship works very well. The rest of the cast is also solid with Rachel Matthews as Theresa’s even meaner sorority sister Danielle, Ruby Modine as her sweet and verbally abused roommate Lori, Charles Aitken as her professor/lover and Rob Mello as a captured serial killer who may, or may not, be her masked murderer.

So, maybe this is not the most original film in terms of story, but it knows it and just runs with it. Christopher B. Landon…who wrote four successive Paranormal Activity sequels and also directed the Marked Ones spin-off…has really sharpened his craft by having a blast with he and Scott Lobdell’s clever slasher variation on the Bill Murray classic…which is playfully acknowledged in the film. It’s a fun movie that succeeds beyond it’s means thanks to a filmmaker who gets how to handle the material and a star-making performances by leading lady Jessica Rothe.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 baby-faced killers.

 

 

 

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