The original Happy Death Day was a real pleasant surprise. A cross between Groundhog Day and Scream, with our heroine being killed by a baby face mask wearing killer every day, only to wake up again at the start of the same day. With a long list of potential suspects, and slowly feeling the effects of dying repeatedly, she set about trying to find the killers identity. Much of what made the first movie so enjoyable was largely down to lead character Tree, played by Jessica Rothe and the intensely hilarious way that she approached the whole situation. It wasn’t exactly a horror movie, more of a comedy thriller.
In Happy Death Day 2U, we begin by following Ryan. Ryan was also in the first movie, bursting into his campus room each morning, interrupting roommate Carter and Tree after she’d spent the night there. As he makes his way to the room from the car he’d spent the night in – avoiding a barking dog, dodging a man asking for money and a boy riding a skateboard – it’s pretty clear that we’re setting up a series of events likely to be repeated time and again in a similar way that Tree experienced a very specific series of events each day in the first movie. During his morning at university, we discover that Ryan has been working on a Quantum mechanics experiment along with a bunch of nerdy students – a machine dubbed ‘Sissy’. Turns out Sissy has been causing some very high power fluctuations and generated some very high readings the day before, the day in which Tree experienced her loop. Soon after, Ryan is killed by the baby face killer and wakes up in his car once again, experiencing the same events we’ve just seen encounter on the way to his room. When he explains what just happened to Tree and Carter, Tree sets about trying to help him figure out how Sissy caused the time-loop in the first place, and how it has now transferred to Ryan.
At this point you’d think you’ve got the rest of the movie pretty much figured out – with Ryan repeating his day, aided by experienced looper Tree. But surprisingly, the movie largely abandons its slasher story-line. Instead, we get a more sc-fi story with a varied mix of slapstick comedy and emotional drama. An accident involving Sissy opens up a portal to the multiverse and Tree finds herself caught up in her original loop once more. Only this time, it’s in a slightly different universe to the one she’s used to – her mum is now alive, and her boyfriend is dating her best friend. Not only does she need to work with Ryan and his nerd friends each day in order to determine how to put things right, she needs to once again work out who the killer is in this particular universe and, more importantly, make the difficult decision to either stay in the universe where her mum is still alive, or return to the one she knows and has lived in all her life.
Once again, Jessica Rothe as Tree is what makes this movie so enjoyable. From the emotional scenes with her mum, to the frustration of the loop, to the bad ass fighting back against it all, she pulls it all off wonderfully. We even get time to enjoy some very funny death scenes too – a particularly enjoyable one being a sky-dive out of an aeroplane, wearing only a bikini and then landing horizontally in slow motion while giving the finger to the camera!
It’s difficult for me to say whether or not I enjoyed this movie more or less than the first. A lot of what made the original so enjoyable is present in this sequel. But there are also a lot of new elements introduced, some that work and some that don’t. Overall I had a great time watching this though – definitely a worthy sequel.