Planting its tongue firmly in cheek, the sequel to 2017’s delightfully peppy “Happy Death Day” takes the timey-wimey slasher story and gives it a decidedly sci-fi twist that sees it play out like an over-caffeinated mash-up of “Back To The Future Part II” and “Russian Doll”.
Finding himself trapped in a time loop on Tuesday 19th September, Ryan (Phi Vu) confides in Carter (Israel Broussard) and Tree (Jessica Rothe) who immediately recognise what’s happening and resolve to help him. When they discover that it was Ryan’s own quantum reactor experiments which caused the time loops, they rush to the lab but the reactor accidentally fires just as the Dean attempts to shut it down, Tree suddenly wakes up to discover it’s Monday 18th September again but this time, she’s trapped in a parallel universe where nothing is quite the same.
There’s a goofy sense of fun permeating the whole film which helps it smooth out some of the bumpier plot contrivances and handwaving temporal logic, but we didn’t buy a ticket for “Happy Death Day 2 U” for its scientific accuracy. No, we bought it for its snarky attitude, its gleefully macabre sense of humour and its eminently likeable cast led once again by the supremely watchable Jessica Rothe. It’s particularly gratifying that the producers managed to get the entire cast back from the first film as it allows them to mischievously play around with the roles, twisting the first film’s narrative so as to keep the audience guessing. Not content with shuffling the roles around in the movie’s new parallel universe, the stakes are increased by having this universe provide Tree with the one thing she wants the most: her mother, alive and well.
Building on the first movie and expanding its horizons without violating any of its own rules, “Happy Death Day 2 U” is a clever and well-crafted sequel which plays to the strengths of it cast and premise. It doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to its dark sense of humour and there’s a montage of increasingly gory and elaborate quantum suicides which comes close to stepping over the line and certainly gives “Deadpool 2”’s X-Force parachute sequence a run for its money but it’s done with such cheery good humour that it never feels exploitative or overly gratuitous.
Silly, slashy sci-fi fun, “Happy Death Day 2 U”, it might not stick every landing it attempts but it deserves a lot of praise for avoiding the common horror sequel trope of simply repeating what happened before but with more gore.