When they announced a sequel to Happy Death Day I was skeptical initially. Upon discovering the entire cast of the original feature were on board my skepticism slowly disappeared. The trailers intrigued me. By combining the same comedic elements from the original and a solid script, Happy Death Day 2U delivers on many levels. Much like the original film, the film takes on elements from another popular eighties film, but this time a sequel within another franchise. Remember Back to the Future II? I suggest watching it again alongside the original Happy Death Day before venturing to theaters. Not a must, but a sound decision all the same.
Happy Death Day 2U takes us back in time to the moment where Tree (Jessica Rothe) wakes up in Carter’s (Israel Broussard) room for the last time. We encounter Ryan (Phi Vu) merely wanting to get back in his dorm room finally. He just wants some clean underwear! Instead we go through Ryan’s day. A rather creepy day where the murderer attacks Ryan and he ultimately wakes up in his car once more. As he explains he is having déjà vu to Tree, she and Carter immediately know they have to fix Ryan’s dilemma so he does not have to continually die repeatedly as Tree did in the previous film. Although audiences are left wonder if Ryan breaks the loop, viewers learn that Tree must continue to relive her birthday repeatedly until they can finally break the loop forever.
While new characters introduced within the feature, the film reintroduces and familiarizes us with past characters. Happy Death Day 2U takes the time to recap the original film via Tree herself. We are also introduced to a crazy yet believable theory somehow of how the time loops occurred in the first place and why the time loop did not completely close. While the explanation is slightly bizarre, audiences want to buy into it. We want to see Tree conquer the loop one more time as the film takes on sci-fi elements instead of merely horror and comedy. What genre will a third installment explore? An inevitable installment hopefully considering the post credits scene.
Although by the end of the original film we are invested and want the best for Tree, we become invested in other characters toward the end of the sequel too. Many heartfelt moments and lessons learned exist within this feature I did not expect going into the film. I’m left pondering what I would do in Tree’s situation. What road would I travel? No one can answer that question for us unfortunately. Our loved ones can make suggestions but ultimately we still have to make that decision for ourselves. If we could erase all the bad in our past would we? The truth is the pain that we endure in life is just as important as the joyous occasions. They both shape who we become. All we can hope for is that the sorrow and pain shape us in a manner that delivers us from a downtrodden path of misery.
Equally important, Rothe and Broussard’s chemistry is some of the best and most enjoyable I’ve witnessed in a horror film. Their characters genuinely care for each other and literally get to prove this time and time again despite Tree waking up to a new day and Carter having to truly get to know her repeatedly. I’m also glad audiences learn more about Ryan other than his sexist remarks. By doing so the introduction of two new characters Samar (Suraj Sharma) and Dre (Sarah Yarkin) was possible. These characters instantly make audiences love them and we immediately hope we learn more about these characters in future installments. We are even slightly happy to have Danielle (Rachel Matthews) back as she shines far more than she did in the original. We might not like her still by the end of the film, but ultimately does an incredible job making us continue to dislike her.
Happy Death Day 2U is a sequel made with love for the fans who enjoyed Happy Death Day. While the film focuses considerably on moments from the past we are forced to embrace the anomalies and piece together yet another puzzle involving the babyface killer. The sequel reminding audiences that Tree and her group of friends are here to stay. Audiences are left knowing the franchise we did not know we wanted now exists. The possibilities are truly endless and the film can build a franchise that stands alongside the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Why? The answer is simple. Much like Scream did in the 90s. and Saw did in the early 2000s, Happy Death Day is reinventing horror again as we know it and audiences are always craving something new yet familiar.