“Happy Death Day 2U,” a follow-up to a 2017 thriller, is the kind of sequel that seems to be in search of a reason to exist. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad to watch.
The movie picks up right where the first movie left off. Theresa (Jessica Rothe), who casually goes by Tree, put an end to a time-loop where she was living the same day over and over and in doing so, made several changes to improve her life.
However, she soon finds out that her issues aren’t completely over. In the first act she learns that her boyfriend’s roommate Ryan (Phi Vu) is actually one of three students working at her university’s science lab. There, the students have created a device that can cause disturbances in space and time. As a result, Tree, and this time her new friends, are put into a position of having to make fixes to the space time continuum, while also dealing with a murderer on the loose.
The first “Happy Death Day” turned out to be a really great surprise in 2017. It managed to balance genres like mystery, comedy and horror while featuring clever writing. Plus, the whole thing was powered by a great performance from Rothe. At the same time, though, it certainly felt like a ‘lightning in a bottle’ type film, where the magic might be hard to replicate and/or build off of.
In the end, it’s probably this picture’s biggest flaw. The movie, as a sequel, never really stands on its own, and works more like an extension of the first movie. There were times it seemed like this feature was just made up of ideas that had gone unused the first go-round rather than a new, different story. It’s also true that a person needs to have seen the first film, maybe even watched it a few times, to really appreciate this picture.
Hard core horror fans might also be let down by the fact that the movie has scaled back the slasher elements and built up more of a sci-fi thriller here, with arguably more comedy. Like its predecessor, the movie also boasts an unfortunate PG-13 rating. Not that the movie needs to be gory, but if you’re going to make a movie where the schtick is dying multiple times, you might as well go wild with the idea and have an R rating.
With all of that said, I can’t say the movie was actually bad, since it was still so damn entertaining. Like its predecessor, the film is again quite funny, with many great self-aware moments, and there’s even some heart packed in the movie to boot.
There are also some well placed sequences of suspense. The movie just keeps rolling, and whether its dash of humor or some thrills, “HDD2U” is engaging for the most part and fun to watch.
Like the original, the movie is greatly benefited by Rothe, who again does stellar work here in the role. Her frustration over the whole situation she’s been in, and continues to endure, is apparent and quite relatable thanks to her performance. She’s especially great in some of the film’s more heartfelt moments.
It certainly never matches the original and doesn’t stand on its own, but “2U” still offers a lot of entertainment value and it’s lead performance once again does a great service to the overall feature. It’s not as good as the first, but still a picture a person can enjoy. 3.0 out of 5.