Happy Death Day 2U
Revisiting a movie that’s wholly based on revisiting a day is a risky endeavor, but this repetitive repetition mostly works in Happy Death Day 2U.
Picking up where 2017’s Happy Death Day ended, the sequel 2U relies heavily on the audience remembering the previous film. I’m sure you might be able to follow the plot of the new one on its own, but this is the rare sequel where familiarity with the original is essentially mandatory.
Tree (Jessica Rothe) has just gotten out of her time loop and is starting her life once again with new boyfriend Carter (Israel Broussard). Only the film doesn’t start with her, it starts with Carter’s roommate, Ryan (Phi Vu). Just as Tree discovered that she’s out of the time loop, Ryan has found himself in the same predicament. Well, nearly the same, as Ryan can actually do something about it.
Here’s where Happy Death Day 2U takes a leaping bound away from Happy Death Day, and frankly stumbles a bit. It tries to bring in scientific reasoning to explain the very unscientific incidents in the first film. Granted, the science itself is not thoroughly discussed, but the very introduction of logic lends itself to a line of questioning about the structural integrity of this world, rather than accepting it as the wacky occurrence that it is.
Not only does Happy Death Day 2U pivot away from the magical, nonsensical nature of the first movie, it also veers beyond absurdity into some pretty pedestrian comedic bits. The introduction of an evil dean at the college (Steve Zissis) and the expansion of the sorority president character (Rachel Matthews) are more slapstick than the film should allow, and add unnecessary distractions to more interesting parts of the plot. When the space-time continuum is not cooperating and there’s a serial killer on the loose, these additional foes are pesky and not engaging.
This is not to say that Happy Death Day 2U is terrible. It’s still pretty funny and delightfully unpredictable. Rothe, once again, carries an incredible burden of playing Tree as an unhinged but still smart and sympathetic character, and she absolutely sells it.
Happy Death Day 2U is smart enough to know that it would be boring to completely repeat the first film, but it goes a little too far away from the original premise and ultimately squanders the tone and purpose of what the franchise originally set out to be. It’s disappointing that the film isn’t straight horror, or even a horror comedy, because that was what drew me to the first one. However, on its own, it’s a fun little science-experiment-gone-wrong movie and is mostly entertaining.