Happy Death Day 2U review Jessica Rothe Israel Broussard

Year: 2019
Director(s): Christopher Landon
Writer(s): Christopher Landon, Scott Lobdell
Region of Origin: US
Rating: PG-13
Digital, Color, 100 mins

Synopsis: Tree discovers that dying over and over was surprisingly easier than the dangers that lie ahead. (Source)

The original Happy Death Day could’ve been nothing more than a gimmick. Instead, it was a rousing rendition of Groundhog Day filtered through a teen slasher. Writers Scott Lobdell and director Christopher Landon went even further. They populated the film with fun characters, a tone that didn’t take itself too seriously, inventive twists and a sincere, emotional core. The film also didn’t overstay its welcome nor end with a cheat. It was fully formed and was hard not to love. Now, Lobdell and Landon have done it again. Happy Death Day 2U isn’t a superfluous sequel, but a story that redefines the budding series. This chapter is absolutely as satisfying as the original, standing on its own while deepening what came before. 

Things kick off one day after the original film. No longer stuck in a repeating time loop, Tree (Jessica Rothe) has broken the cycle and become a new person. She’s been changed by numerous deaths and now more appreciative of those around her. Taking a step back, it’s revealed that Ryan, (Phi Vu), a close friend Tree’s bf, Carter (Israel Broussard), has built some sort of quantum machine. Meant to be his thesis, it turns out to be the unwitting source of Tree’s original time loop. During a mishap, Tree gets sent two days into the past of a parallel universe. Of course, finding a way back won’t be easy. Along the way, there will be more twists than you can imagine, lots of inventive deaths and a liberal dose of mind-bending hijinks. 

In essence, Landon has reinvented everything we loved about the original and amped it all up in the best way possible. For a premise that thrives on repetition, the film never feels lazy or succumbs to any cheap cop outs. The attention to character, personal motivations and the idea of choice are still at the forefront, but this time funnier, wilder and more unhinged. Landon and crew are having lots of fun here, and it shows. It’s hard to say more without spoiling things, but the film feels more in line with Back to the Future than Final Destination. This time twisty quantum mechanics are accompanied by some irresistible Hughes-esque vibes. Embracing sci-fi comedy, the film expands a fascinating mythology to questioning ideas about choice and identity. If you can go with the film’s endearing absurdity (and who wouldn’t!?), there isn’t a moment that’s wasted or isn’t an outright joy.

Happy Death Day 2U review Phi Vu

A film like this requires a strong cast, and it’s the ensemble that guides us through the farce. Rothe is again the film’s anchor, able to balance fleeting dramatic moments with tongue-in-cheek theatricality. Rothe is full of energy and life, exactly what the film needs to make its gimmick mean something. As the long-suffering Carter, Israel Broussard makes his role matter, giving Rothe someone to bounce off of and Tree some strong support. Phi Vu takes the comic relief buddy and makes Ryan even more likable despite still having short but sweet moments. Adding to the cast, Suraj Sharma and Sarah Yarkin are two colleagues who instantly sizzle with their charm. Together, everyone has such strong chemistry and we just love seeing them shift and surprise with each revelation or timeline do-over.

Happy Death Day 2U proves that sequels shouldn’t just be bigger and better, but also strive to push things forward and innovate. Landon and crew have absolutely pulled off something special with this film. It’s consistently solid throughout, keeps us surprised and is headlined by a cast that we genuinely want to hang out with. I love how weird and unafraid this film is to swing big, and the end result is a film that I can’t wait to watch over and over again. Though this chapter feels self contained, I’d totally watch another one in a heartbeat.