I initially had gone into Happy Death Day (2017) with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised by the film’s tone and its lead performance. The announcement that the cast was returning for Happy Death Day 2U (2019) with Christopher Landon now writing and directing didn’t fill me with hope, despite my affection for the first. Instead, I felt like I was stuck in a loop, as there was no way this sequel could possibly recreate the magic that had somehow happened the first time around. Unfortunately this time, I was right.
Happy Death Day 2U fortunately does end
Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) finds herself stuck inside another time loop after Carter’s (Israel Broussard) roommate, Ryan (Phi Vu), wakes up murdered by a baby mask-wearing assailant. How Tree ended up in the initial time loop is explained through Ryan’s experience, and attempting to right the loop sends Tree to a parallel dimension. It’s her birthday again and the killer is back, but many details from the first time have changed, leaving Tree uncertain of what to do next.
Rothe still proves she is more than capable to be a sympathetic character, and she can easily lead a film. However, this film doesn’t give her anything new to do. She gets a few great scenes where she gets to show some emotion. Broussard is charming, and the two have chemistry for sure. It’s a shame that the performances aren’t enough to make this film enjoyable.
Landon’s film has nothing enjoyable to offer. The best scenes are just rehashes of those from the first film. Even a montage of death sequences – that blatantly ignores the rules of the world crafted in the film – offers a couple of laughs. Still, the film is unbelievably bland, and can’t help but feel redundant. Landon’s script fails to recapture the tone or feeling of the first film in every way. There’s no horror, no tension, and almost no fun.
Elements of the plot that seem like they should be important are treated as an extremely unimportant sub-plot. One new character, Dean Roger Bronson (Steve Zissis), gets so much to do that it had me questioning if he’d been in the first film. He barges in and plays a stereotypical college dean character to Ryan, and his science experiment partners Samar Ghosh (Suraj Sharma) and Andrea ‘Dre’ Morgan (Sarah Yarkin) yelling about how their experiment needs to be shut down. It’s the exact opposite of the original elements the first film offered, and a great example of why this sequel should never have happened.
Happy Death Day 2U was far from a good time at the movies. If not for the solid performances, this would have been a total trainwreck. Truthfully, it’s not even bad; it’s just boring. While I’m still fond of the first film, this sequel has left me questioning if I’d been too kind to it. Happy Death Day 2U earns the Not a Total Waste of Time rating.