Fire up the loop, I’m ready to be with all those characters I loved from 2017’s Happy Death Day with 2019’s follow-up, also by Christopher Landon, Happy Death Day 2U. Seriously, as far as I can tell, everyone is back for this one, and that always makes a sequel more enjoyable, especially when it is dealing with a similar premise.
Once again, Tree is in a loop, but this time, it’s a loop to another dimension, where she is reliving the same day, but in a different dimension, one where a new killer is on the loose, people are slightly different, and her mother is still alive, adding to the emotional weight. Fascinatingly enough, this film, like its predecessor, has a 71 percent on Rottentomatoes, “A funnier follow-up with a sci-fi bent, Happy Death Day 2U isn’t as fiendishly fresh as its predecessor, but fans of the original may still find this a sequel worth celebrating.”
And I’m celebrating! In fact, I’ll go ahead and plant my flag in this genre salad and say: This actually improves upon the first film by fleshing out Carter’s roommate, Ryan (played by Phi Vu), and the reason why the loop even happened in the first film. It also fleshes out the relationship between Tree and her mother, the one that’s alive in this dimension, Julie (played by Missy Yager). That relationship (along with her love romance with Carter, which also gets fleshed out) is the emotional core and baggage of this series, so that was a worthwhile axis to set the film on. In other words, does Tree stay with this dimension, where her mother is still alive or does she go back to the one where her mother is dead?
The gags are funnier in this one, too, primarily because instead of being killed again and again by the new killer, Tree instead kills herself again and again. In one instance, she takes a swan dive into a wood chipper. That sort of dark humor will always be hilarious to me. But because of that, admittedly, it’s even less of a horror/slasher film than the first one was. There’s not much in the way of that here. In fact, it’s more an intense thriller at the end than horror.
Also, Landon brings it with even more style and flair here. The slow motion sequences at the beginning and end when the cast of characters are dealing with the quantum reactor responsible for the loop and multiple dimensions are well-done.
But my goodness. If I thought Jessica Rothe was great in the prior film, and I did, she’s somehow upped her game for the sequel. Again, she’s seamlessly moving between the genres, but also, kicking even more ass, and doing more fun action sequences. One of the cooler scenes of either film is when she kills the new killer, Dr. Gregory Butler (played by Charles Aitken), by having the MRI machine’s magnetic force snatch Butler, and then the screwdriver Tree had in her hand to plunge through his chest. Quite inventive and sick!
My favorite thing about a sequel is when it fully leans into what it is and what made the first one successful, but importantly, instead of being a retread entirely (looking at you, The Hangover Part II), it expands the universe. In this case, with the idea of multiple dimensions instead of just a time loop.
Overall, as the critical consensus said, if you liked the first one, you’re sure to love this one. I, for one, would be more than happy to come back to this for, what, Happy Death Day You Forgot a Candle? Whatever brings me back to this fun universe with Rothe and the gang kicking ass, I’m down for; I’ll bring a poisoned cupcake.
Have you seen the follow-up?