A new loop of death begins in Happy Death Day 2U. After finally escaping a time loop that saw her repeatedly killed on her birthday, Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) discovers that the loop was the result was the result of a quantum device created by Tree’s boyfriend Carter’s (Israel Broussard) roommate Ryan (Phi Vu). When the machine malfunctions during an attempted shutdown by the dean, Tree once again finds herself stuck in a time loop on her birthday. However, this time things are quite different, including the identity of the baby masked killer that’s stalking her.
In 2017’s Happy Death Day, director Christopher Landon (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse) took the typical plot of a teen slasher film and gave it a Groundhog Day twist. Happy Death Day 2U ups the ante by not only returning to the time loop premise, but also setting the plot in an alternate dimension, resulting in a number of changes to the day that Tree has already lived (and died) in a dozen times. Not only does Tree have to convince Carter and Ryan each day to help her return to her own timeline, but there is also a killer to content with, the identity of whom is once again a mystery to Tree.
The original Happy Death Day can be described as an OK PG-13 slasher film that is slightly elevated by the time loop twist. Now, with Happy Death Day 2U, the filmmakers take an already out there premise and somehow make it more bonkers. While still technically a horror film, this sequel really doubles down on the science fiction and comedy elements. While the film heavily risks jumping the shark by revealing in the first act that the time loop is caused by a quantum machine created by a group of college students in the lab, Happy Death Day 2U does ultimately become a film that is more enjoyable to watch than the original.
Setting the bulk of the plot in an alternate dimension is an arguably clever way to create a sequel for a film that takes place in a time loop. There’s enough changes to make the plot interesting, such as the fact that Carter is now dating Tree’s sorority sister Danielle (Rachel Matthews) and Tree’s roommate Lori (Ruby Modine) is now the one having an affair with professor Gregory Butler (Charles Aitken). The film also features increasingly outlandish methods for Tree to die, many of which are featured in a very quirky montage. This sequel also pushes the PG-13 rating to the limit, with the deaths not being as bloodless as they were in the original.
In the end, I would say that Happy Death Day 2U settles into a sci-fi tinged horror-comedy niche that isn’t all that scary, but is still pretty entertaining to watch. However, I’m still not a huge fan of that ridiculous baby mask.