These Groundhog Day-esque films always seem to have something new to explore with this idea, and I can’t seem to get enough!
A follow-up to the surprise hit that was the original, Happy Death Day 2U takes place a single day after the events of the first film with our protagonist, Tree (Jessica Rothe), having finally closed the time loop that saw her murdered in various gruesome ways only to reawaken and relive the same day over and over again. Now that Tree has put that experience behind her, she suddenly finds herself in yet another loop after a freak accident involving what is essentially a quantum field reactor built by Tree and boyfriend Carter’s (Israel Broussard) roommate Ryan (Phi Vu), dubbed Sissy. With a new loop somehow starting back up again due to the activation of Sissy, everything isn’t as it should be, in fact, none of the rules or situations that Tree had previously encountered in her old loop apply to this new one save for one thing: when Tree dies, she wakes up right at the beginning of the loop, forced to find her killer and solve her own murder once again. Now, with her time running short as her body weakens from each death, will Tree be able to find her killer and set the loop right, or will this death day be her last?
I wasn’t expecting this sequel to go the way it did, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy every second of it. Like many Groundhog Day inspired films that have used this particular storytelling device in the past, Happy Death Day 2U lives and dies (literally) by how the filmmakers handle the idea, and after seeing this film through to the end, I’m happy to say that they deliver.
Instead of keeping the proceedings modeled like a straight slasher flick like the original, Happy Death Day 2U takes a bold step into the science fiction genre by adding a layer to the story that not only gives the familiar beats a great twist to keep it apart from the original, but also allows the film to step outside of itself to not only poke fun at what’s happening onscreen, but to go even farther with the wacky ideas that pop-up throughout. I don’t know if there are many other movies that can pull off the type of humor, entertaining tone, brutal (for a PG-13 rating) kills, and a dash of emotion that this one can, but the filmmakers seem to know exactly what they want with this one, as well as how to achieve it.
Not only did I love the new elements sprinkled throughout the script, but I also can’t shake the idea that actress Jessica Rothe is a star in the making. I honestly don’t think the original would have worked as well without the solid cast attached, and if not for Rothe playing the lead in both films, I don’t think the script and dialogue would have been sold as well as it was in both instances. There’s something to be said about an entire cast and crew that get a movie like this, and Rothe in particular brings a great sense of fun and commitment to a role that could have easily been one-note and a simple means to an end. Mix that with a surprising emotional core to her struggle as well as a returning cast that mesh extremely well together onscreen, and you have yet another film that shouldn’t be as good as it actually turned out in the end.
Happy Death Day 2U is a rare sequel that works just as well as the original while still giving audiences something new and entertaining to experience along the way. With the added science fiction elements thrown into the mix, along with a cast and set of filmmakers that sell the wacky tone and loopy story near perfectly, this is a sequel that could have easily taken the safe way out as many sequels are wont to do, but instead ended up successfully going for broke and running with the idea to its fullest. And while the Groundhog Day gimmick is still heavily utilized and slightly derivative compared to the original, Happy Death Day 2U is a fully realized, entertaining romp into another dimension that begs for more exploration and stories to come.