Back in 2017, Blumhouse and Christopher Landon’s Groudhog Day style comedy horror Happy Death Day came just at the right time to fill a void left by late 90s to early 2000s teenage slashers in the Scream and Final Destiny series vein. The film went on to delight horror fans with its inspired premise and cleverly executed plot.
In Happy Death Day 2U, Landon is back in the directing seat with a sequel which sadly leaves a lot to be desired in the originality stakes. Playing around with the same ideas as its predecessor, this new instalment remains hugely watchable even if it brings nothing new to the slasher comedy genre.
After a blissful couple of weeks spent getting to know her new boyfriend Carter (Israel Broussard), Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) unexpectedly re-enters the time loop which turned her last birthday into a living hell. This time, Tree learns that the whole thing was triggered by Carter’s roommate Ryan (Phi Vu) during a failed scientific experiment, resulting in her having to relive the same day over and over again. Armed with this knowledge, Tree must die and die again until she has managed to find a way to return to her own timeline. However, our hapless heroine soon discovers that the original killer Lori (Ruby Modine) has been murdered and that someone else wants her dead.
Landon and co-writer Scott Lobdell bring us more of the same, with added slapstick and a few misjudged gags which, hard as they try, cannot quite seem to land. There are some great moments of suspense, however the jump-scares are scarce and much tamer than in the original, which in my mind is a major flaw for a film of its nature. Presenting a narrative which simply refuses to take any risks, Landon ultimately decides to stick to the original idea and run wild with it. The result isn’t exactly disastrous, but in the end there is just not much to get excited about.
Rothe is again the heart and soul of the film from start tom finish. She manages to be both funny and likeable without ever overstepping the mark into the predictably annoying. And while there are some serous missed opportunities due to its failure to capitalise on the brilliant comedy timing of its new cast members, namely Suraj Sharma and Sarah Yarkin, Happy Death Day 2U still manages to raise a few laughs courtesy of Rachel Matthews who does a fantastic job as snobby sorority brat Danielle Bouseman.
Overall, Happy Death Day 2U does exactly what is expected from it, and sadly nothing more. And even if we are sometimes left feeling rather short-changed by its unoriginal plot, the film still manages to remain watchable thanks to its faultless young cast.
Happy Death Day 2U is in cinemas nationwide from Friday 15th of February.