2017’s Happy Death Day was a fun, albeit flawed, genre romp from director Christopher Landon. Featuring the wonderful high concept pitch, “it’s Groundhog Day meets Scream”, the movie benefited from an extremely polished script and an absolutely stellar performance by Jessica Rothe. The film went on to do shockingly well at the box office so a sequel was inevitable, but it’s difficult to grasp what exactly they were going for with Happy Death Day 2U.
Happy Death Day 2U begins promisingly enough. We’re reintroduced to the time loop concept through Ryan Phan (Phi Vu), who finds himself in a situation similar to that of Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) in the first film. Through the zappy, obnoxious dialogue, lip service is paid to the multiverse, alternate realities and a number of intriguing sci-fi concepts. However, just when things are about to get interesting the movie shifts back to Tree’s point of view and becomes a fairly standard rehash of the first one, although this time set in an alternate dimension.
Tree’s journey in the first film was fun because she was a legitimately terrible person and watching her suffer was amusing. In the sequel, however, she’s lost her edge and apart from one pretty hilarious suicide montage the story lacks the calculated lunacy of the previous entry. Worse still, the slasher movie conceit has been all but abandoned, which leaves the central whodunnit mystery a thin and unsatisfying concoction. This wouldn’t be so bad had the new additions worked, but a streak of dumb, broad comedy (replete with zany French accents of all bloody things) has replaced the stabby shenanigans. Oh, and remember the sentimental claptrap from the first film? Well, it’s returned threefold and is truly painful.
On the upside Jessica Rothe is still fantastic, and honestly deserves to be in a better film than this one. She fully commits to every moment – even the wretchedly mawkish ones – and is a delight. The support cast are mostly fine, with the science nerds providing some chuckles, but it’s all in service of a script that seems unsure of what it wants to be and consequently ends up being a whole lot of noisy nothing.
Hardcore but undiscerning fans of the first film might find something to enjoy here, but the rest of you are probably better off skipping Happy Death Day 2U and staying in to watch Russian Doll instead.