“Happy Death Day 2U” stars Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin, and Ruby Modine. Released on February 13, 2019, the film has Tree Gelbman re-entering the time loop to rescue her friends from a new masked killer.
The film is directed by Christopher Landon, who also directed “Burning Palms”, “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones”, and “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse”. It is a sequel to the 2017 slasher film, “Happy Death Day”, which was also directed by Landon. Reliving the same day over and over again can be quite an experience. Having to get killed by a masked murderer in order to obtain that experience can be such a buzzkill. This concept comes from one of Blumhouse Productions’ successful horror hits, “Happy Death Day”, a film that is best described as “Groundhog Day” with a slasher twist. I was one of the people who surprisingly enjoyed “Happy Death Day” because of its intriguing concept and its well-handled story. When I found out that they’re making a follow-up to the film, my concerns started to swirl around my head. I asked myself how they’re going to continue the story without retreading the same steps that made its predecessor good. You know, because almost every horror sequel tends to make that mistake one way or another. After watching its trailer a few times, I thought I would check it out to see if it’s as fun as the original.
Set after the events of the first film, the sequel finds Tree (Rothe) in a similar predicament yet again after the source that sent her in the time loop in the first place sends her back. After reading that sentence, you’re probably thinking, “Oh, it’s just a rehash of the first film. It’s going to be a total cash grab”. Well, you’re half right. It does involve Tree getting stuck in the time loop again, but this time, she’s stuck in the time loop…in another dimension. Yeah, that does sound a bit far-fetched for a “Groundhog Day”-themed slasher film, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have fun with the concept. The sequel was able to focus a bit more on the sci-fi element with the cost of minimizing the slasher mystery element that made its predecessor invigorating. Because of this, the film’s latter wasn’t able to recapture that sense of intrigue and suspense compared to what the original accomplished, mostly due to the underwhelming twist near the end. However, despite those shortcomings, the film is an entertaining and funny continuation that doesn’t rely heavily on the original’s story beats. Jessica Rothe and Israel Broussard both delivered satisfying performances as Tree Gelbman and Carter Davis, respectively. What I liked about the first film was that it didn’t treat Tree like a stereotypical horror victim. It showcased her quest to become a better person in the midst of the time loop dilemma with heart and personality. “Happy Death Day 2U” continues that quest and, while it’s not as effective as the original, it’s heartwarming enough to prove that you can have good characters in a horror sequel. The film is also a bit more funnier than what I thought it would be, mostly because of the cast and Tree’s death montage. Who knew death can have a sense of humor? The comedy aspect is something that’ll either make or break the film depending on someone’s sense of humor. Luckily, for me, it was able to have plenty of moments that made me laugh my butt off.
Overall, “Happy Death Day 2U” may sound like a cash grab on paper, but it’s actually a worthy follow-up that made some changes to the formula with satisfying results. This is something that could’ve wind up in a garbage can filled with lazy horror sequels. Fortunately, writer/director Christopher Landon knew how to make a sequel fun without putting so much focus on the first film’s formula. Thanks to its cast, the humor, and its storytelling, the film is another birthday present that’s worth receiving. If you enjoyed the first film as much as I did, I can assure you that you might have a good time with this.