Movie Review - Happy Death Day 2U
Happy Death Day wasn't just your typical slasher flick. It had a twist. It was a horror version of Groundhog Day (1993). The question is how does one make a sequel to that 1993 comedy. Its premise is that a person is caught in a time loop in which he or she keeps reliving the same day over and over until they accomplish something. In Happy Death Day, what had to be accomplished is figuring out the identity of a serial killer. The movie accomplished that. It unmasked the killer and then killed said killer, so how do you follow up that?
For films and a lot of TV shows that deal with time travel, the multiverse is the next step. For this film, it can relive the same day and solve the same mystery, but it does so in an alternate dimension, one that's similar to the one we know but is slightly different. Specifically, in the alternate dimension, the serial killer is not the same person as it was in the previous film. Yet, even solving that new mystery is invariably too easy, given that the protagonist here has too much knowledge at her disposal. Landon, therefore, makes the murder mystery the B-plot of this narrative. The A-plot or the main plot involves instead grappling with the idea of choosing to live in an alternate dimension or not.
At the moment of her murder or at the moment of her death, time is reversed and she's taken back to the dorm room where she wakes up to relive the whole thing over and over again. Like Groundhog Day, there was no explanation as to why she was reliving the same day over and over. It just happened, seemingly by magic. She simply had to accept that she was in a time loop and the only goal was figuring out how to break it. For Tree, breaking the loop meant solving the murder mystery and killing the killer.
Unfortunately, introducing this time machine and this science-fiction aspect only creates more questions and contradictions that it really didn't need. Yes, there's a time machine, but there's never any explanation as to why Tree was caught in the time-loop despite being nowhere near the time machine. It then never explains why Ryan gets caught in a time-loop but no one else is. It also doesn't explain why Tree is blown into an alternate dimension but she never encounters her alternate self. There's never any scene where there's two of her. These questions make it hard to accept this new plot, but that's not the point.
That's an interesting dilemma that Landon handles rather well given the plot and premise constantly spinning things around. What really dominates though is the comedy that Landon injects into this film. It's not to say there wasn't comedy in the previous film, but the volume of that comedy is increased to ridiculous degrees here. There's a whole sequence of a girl pretending to be blind that simply felt too unnecessary and not all that funny the longer it went on. I would have preferred if the film leaned into the drama instead.
Rated PG-13 for violence, language and sexual material.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 40 mins.
Available on DVD.