Release: February 13, 2019
Director: Christopher Landon
Writer: Christopher Landon
Starring: Jessica Rothe as Tree Gelbman, Israel Broussard as Carter Davis, Phi Vu as Ryan Phan, Suraj Sharma as Samar Ghosh, and Sarah Yarkin as Dre Morgan
Running Time: 100 minutes
potential spoilers ahead
Happy Death Day 2u opens with Ryan Phan stuck in a temporal loop, reliving the day after the events of the first film over and over again. A day that ends with his being murdered by a man in a black hoodie and a baby mask. When Ryan tells Tree and Carter of his dilemma, they help him track down and subdue the killer, who turns out to be a time paradox version of himself. We also find out that the time loop is the result of a machine that Ryan and two of his fellow students, Samar and Dre, were experimenting with to slow down time at the molecular level. The gang take time paradox Ryan back to the lab for interrogation. As the two Ryan’s bicker over which one needs to die to set things right, the dean arrives to seize the machine, which has been responsible for blackouts and other electrical issues on campus. In the midst of the conflict that ensues, the machine fires, and tree wakes up in an alternate reality version of the previous day (the day from the first film), stuck in the time loop yet again. Tree enlists the help of earth two Carter, Ryan, Dre, and Samar to help her get back to her own timeline, and out of the loop.
The original Happy Death Day was something of a pleasant surprise, a PG-13 black comedy/slasher flick that combined elements of Groundhog Day, Scream, and The House on Sorority Row that was actually fairly entertaining. The thing about comedy though is that it only works once. Comedies are a use once and destroy kind of thing. If you think that is hyperbole, re-watch the The Hangover trilogy. Of course, some people are able to re-watch certain films that others can’t, especially if they’ve ranked them within a top list of movies they have enjoyed in the past for one reason or another. Happy Death Day 2U is a rehashing of the first film. It hits all of the same beats note for note with only middling variations at best. It also comes with a horrible, tacked on sci-fi subtext involving a time machine of a sort. A plot that, though it may be pretty stock, could have proven more interesting than the product that was released if it had been followed through. The sequel also comes with a very ill-advised lightening of the tone. It veers far too greatly into twee, “lol, omg, so random,” Big Bang Theory “millennial humour.” Slasher films are not exactly bastions of great acting, needing nothing more than a cast of pretty people who could do well in a community theater production, but the performances in Happy Death Day 2U take things into a territory that lies somewhere between William Shatner in the original Star Trek and a Disney tween sitcom. It becomes hard to believe that this is the same director and mostly the same cast from the first movie. In the end, nothing ever elevates this film above the fate horrible fate that befalls all comedy sequels: becoming a middling retread of the much better film that preceded it.