By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Happy Death Day 2U, although tiring itself out with one too many sub-plots and occasional cheese, does keep that tight comedy/horror dynamic that the first one did so well, as well as bring something new to the time-worn ‘time-loop’ genre.
Directed by Christopher Landon (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse), Happy Death Day 2U continues to follow university student Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) in her endless time loop of horror after she discovers that the cause of the original loop is a student science experiment by campus nerd Ryan (Phi Vu).
Much to the disappointment of Tree (still can’t get over that ridiculous hippy name), not only is she back ‘in the loop’ but she’s been dragged kicking and screaming into a parallel universe where she no longer has a boyfriend, nor does she have the awkward adultery problems with her professor. Everything seems to be tip-top, until that familiar and unsettling ‘Baby Face’ killer shows up again. Dead? Not in this universe.
The time loop thing has been done. Done to death, but at least writer-director Landon knows that and rather than spitting out a regurgitated Groundhog Day, this entry, like the first, tries to stand on its own feet by combining genres and cranking up the humor. Think John Hughes meets Wes Craven meets Spielberg? It works most of the time.
To get back to her original parallel universe, Tree is given the task of memorising a formula to re-calibrate the machine. Problem is, there’s not enough time for the campus’ resident nerds to figure it out in a single time loop, so she does it over the course of several. Cue: multiple suicides of varying hilarity to restart the loop, including one involving a wood-chipper.
However, while Tree comes up with new ways to kill herself, and also tries to reconnect with her estranged family in some very daytime television sequences, we’re left with wondering about what happened to the killer, let alone who they are. ‘Baby Face’ becomes little more than a Halloween mask, and not a partcularly scary one.
There’s one too many genres and sub-plots to figure out with Happy Death Day 2U, and it leaves it falling a little flat in the third act, and Jessica Rothe’s hysterical and extreme reactions feel very contrived at times, but generally it’s a fun film to escape to.
Fans will happy to know that Landon is already planning a third entry to make it a trilogy, because of course he is.
Happy Death Day 2U is now screening in Czech cinemas.