Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu
Director: Christopher Landon
Running Time: 100 mins
Happy Death Day 2U is an American film and the sequel to Happy Death Day. After escaping from her neverending day, Tree and her friends find themselves in another predicament, this time battling with eternal loops and a multitude of dimensions.
Happy Death Day was a massive surprise. Heartfelt, funny, intelligent and somehow making the Groundhog Day premise feel fresh again, I absolutely loved it as a real one-off. So, for its sequel, the awkwardly-named Happy Death Day 2U, to impress on many of the same levels once again, is a real surprise, and makes up one of the unexpectedly entertaining movie series in a very, very long time.
The first film, by taking on the premise of a never-ending day already beaten into the ground by numerous Groundhog Day wannabes, was always going to be derivative, but it found a way to make that same concept feel entirely fresh, and it’s the same case with its sequel.
The first few minutes of this movie seem to hint at a lazy rehash of the story that worked so well last time out, but as we rejoin Jessica Rothe and Israel Broussard, the protagonists of the first movie, the sequel takes a bold and really rather clever approach to reevaluating its predecessor.
So, the events of the second film take place almost exactly where the last movie left off, and rather than being a lazy attempt at remaking the first film – by effectively telling the same story but with different characters/in a different location – Happy Death Day 2U builds on what was established last time out, and begins to twist everything you thought you knew in a delightfully entertaining way.
As a result, if you haven’t seen the first film, then Happy Death Day 2U likely won’t make a lick of sense to you, but once you have seen it, the callbacks, references and more to the first film are really satisfying, and play a clever and useful role in the story that the sequel is telling.
There are times when it does feel as if the story is following a very similar track to the previous film, and there are elements of the sequel that do come off as a little overly derivative, but Happy Death Day 2U is an impressively bold change of direction for this series, cleverly and effectively shifting it towards a more sci-fi oriented premise in comparison to the popcorn horror of the first movie.
Then playing on tropes of time travel movies like Back To The Future Part II, the film impresses hugely with its shift in tone and genre, and while still staying true to its brilliantly entertaining origins, this is a sequel that feels as fresh as it does familiar, something that’s so rare to see in the modern day, particularly from the horror, sci-fi and comedy genres.
Happy Death Day 2U is engrossing, exciting, fresh and funny throughout, and a fantastic follow-up to the first film, but best of all, it retains the heartfelt and often stunningly touching emotion that made the original such a surprise.
While this doesn’t quite have the same uplifting, fable-like emotional development for the main character, Happy Death Day 2U introduces interesting and often emotionally challenging ideas and conflicts for its characters to deal with, and thanks to a collection of excellent performances from the whole cast once again, this is a film that you can actually take seriously when it’s asked of you, once again no mean feat for a film of this ilk.
Overall, I had a really great time with Happy Death Day 2U. It’s not quite on the level of its brilliant predecessor, but the fact that it recaptures the unique mix of entertainingly ridiculous horror/sci-fi with engaging drama and often stunningly heartfelt emotion, all the while taking a new and bold direction with its story, is something that really deserves the highest praise, so that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6.