Happy Death Day 2U
- Matthew Turner
- 12 February 2019
Entertaining slasher sequel that takes inspiration from Back to the Future Part II this time round
A slasher movie version of Groundhog Day, Blumhouse Productions' Happy Death Day proved a surprise hit in 2017, becoming briefly famous for knocking Blade Runner 2049 off the top spot of the US box office. The sequel reunites the entire cast, as well as director Christopher Landon, who's also taken over scripting duties from original screenwriter Scott Lobdell.
This time round, former mean girl Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) finds herself trapped in yet another time loop after a science project created by her boyfriend's roommate Ryan (Phi Vu) goes haywire. However, there's an added complication – she's also been knocked into an alternate universe where several important details in her life are different, with powerfully emotional consequences. One thing's the same though – the killer with the baby face mask is still on the loose.
The original exploited all the possibilities of the time loop scenario, so it makes perfect sense to tweak the format a little for the sequel – as one character points out, the key reference here is Back to the Future Part II. Initially, it's frustrating that the filmmakers feel the need to explain the time loop, but it does at least acknowledge the ramifications of that decision, with a thoughtful, well-written scene where Tree speculates on whether her previous experience still has meaning if it was all just an accident.
On a similar note, this follow-up downplays its slasher movie status this time round, cleverly turning it into a signifier of responsibility, meaning that Tree still has to stop the killer even though there are other race-against-time things going on. Appealingly, the second film's emotional through-line is even stronger than the first's and the choices Tree has to make are genuinely moving.
As before, the performances are a lot of fun and Landon keeps things fresh, while still including some inspired references to the first film (Rothe's rapid-fire recap is a particular highlight). If there's a problem, it's that the tone wobbles a little in the second act and there are some slight inconsistencies with Tree's physical state after every reset. However, these are minor quibbles that don't detract from the overall enjoyment of an entertaining sequel.
General release from Wed 13 Feb.