With 2017’s Happy Death Day, budget horror maestros Blumhouse shamelessly pilfered Groundhog Day’s time-loop premise and bolted on a slasher twist, tasking arboreally-named heroine Tree (Rothe) with solving her own murder. While that film revelled in its own repetition, the niftily titled Happy Death Day 2U cranks itself into overdrive in doing the over-and-over-again thing, well, again.
Exploring the timey-wimey implications of parallel dimensions, new loops and quantum meddling, 2U is more Back To The Future Part II (a reference point the film itself acknowledges) meets Scream 2, and disproves the latter’s theory that “sequels suck”. Returning director and co-writer Christopher Landon hews closely to the template of the original (there’s a brief in-film recap, but swotting up beforehand is advisable) with a sequel that’s less a re-do than a remix, restaging familiar set-ups with playful new results — this is a madder, more meta movie that gleefully pushes the high-concept and the humour further and further, reinventing, referencing and reversing upon itself with joyous abandon.
An entertainingly bonkers funhouse ride.
Committing admirably to the lunacy is Rothe, who shines in a role that demands scream-queen vulnerability, brash physical comedy and surprising levels of emotion in the film’s sole sombre thread. Elsewhere, Phi Vu’s science-bro Ryan, last time largely relegated to repeating a single line, makes plenty of his expanded role, though extra screentime for sorority mean-girl Danielle (Rachel Matthews) pushes slightly too far into slapstick silliness in the final act.
If anything, Happy Death Day 2U is so busy having fun that it often forgets to be a slasher — but given the original’s slight, bloodless scares (both films are PG-13 in the US), it’s hard to care. The film wears its sci-fi influences brazenly, crafting them into an entertainingly bonkers funhouse ride that wisely wraps up before it runs out of steam. If there’s an inexplicable Western-themed part three, we’re in.