Happy Death Day was a solid and fun horror comedy in the same vein as Groundhog Day. It stood well on its own. But it was difficult to see a sequel to a movie like it. Because movies with this kind of premise have always been one and done, it just seemed like the type that would suffer from having an explanation added.
Enter, Happy Death Day 2U.
This is a clever, smart, scary, funny, well-shot, and surprisingly heartfelt movie that far exceeds its predecessor in quality. It sets itself up for success by getting right into the action and not feeling hindered by having to explain the concept of the day repeating. This concept is explained – and it is fairly convoluted – but the film doesn’t let that hold it back. It marches right on with confidence, exactly as its protagonist does once she experiences the same day for the umpteenth time in a row.
Detractors of this movie will say it spends too much time on its science fiction and that it loses its focus at various points. This is totally fair! But there is just too much stuff going on in this movie that is legitimately great to make those things take actual value from it. From great one-liners, to tense moments, to unique and imaginative visuals, this is a constantly engaging film.
This is not to mention how this ensemble cast of actors – each of whom barely have enough IMDb credits to take up all of my fingers – comes together to create a little ragtag group trying over and over and over to get this right. All of this is anchored by Jessica Rothe playing the main character, Tree. As if wanting to escape a time loop isn’t enough of a motivation, the stakes are even higher for her in this movie.
Tree is presented with a seemingly impossible decision that will change the course of the rest of her life. From this, the film gets at the heart of loss, moving on, and relationships. It does this in such a meaningful way, even when it has no business doing so. This all culminates in a scene that brought me to the verge of tears.
Happy Death Day 2U shouldn’t work as well as it does. Its plot seems completely organic and delivers an incredible emotional punch. As soon as I walked out of the theater, I unironically wanted to turn right around and go through the whole experience all over again.