Freaky” has slasher-flick moments and it has comedic moments, but never at the same time, leading to a patchwork hybrid that always feels like a slick Blumhouse product, never something you can get swept away by. On the other hand, Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton (“Blockers”) are on point playing a teen girl and a serial killer, respectively. While this doesn’t rank among the great body-switch films, the two leads are always on their game.
It’s accurate to call “Happy Death Day 2U” a dumb movie, and accurate to call it a smart movie. It seems as if Blumhouse studio asked writer-director Christopher Landon (who also directed the 2017 original, from Scott Lobdell’s screenplay) to go hog-wild building on the premise from the first entry, and Landon does just that. This sequel isn’t nearly as much of a straight rehash as the horrible trailers suggest.
Groundhog Day” (1993) is of course the touchstone of the “repeating the same day” genre, so when another film comes along with that premise, it’s intriguing, but it also gives me pause: Will it merely repeat “Groundhog Day” for a younger generation, or will it have something new to say? Available via Redbox and streaming, “Happy Death Day” (2017) is a mixture. It starts off too much in the same vein, but gets more creative as it moves toward a satisfying ending.
The “Paranormal Activity” franchise continues to deliver the expected goods — scares or laughs, depending on your mindset — in its fourth entry. But like the “Saw” series that used to dominate October, the law of diminishing returns naturally factors in a bit more each year. “Paranormal Activity” was spoofed by “The Simpsons” in a “Treehouse of Horror” installment (“Un-Normal Activity”) a couple weeks ago and even the filmmakers seem to sense the formula is wearing thin — this one jumps into the action much more quickly than previous installments.
Many horror franchises get lazy with each new entry, falling back on what worked in previous installments rather than getting innovative. I’m happy to say that the “Paranormal Activity” franchise is an exception. Although it still operates within the “found footage” format, the third entry comes up with fresh ways to present the footage.
Shaune, a commenter on these threads, wrote about a year ago that he liked “Paranormal Activity,” but if they made a sequel he would hate it. Well, the sequel is here, but I think he and many other people will like it. I certainly think it’s a significant step up from the first movie, which had a great concept but was sometimes a bit boring.