Christopher Landon’s teen-slasher Groundhog Day a.k.a. Happy Death Day exploits the familiar time-loop trope into an inspiring comedy with Jessica Rothe delivering a literally wide-ranging performance. Some people found it cleverly revamping the trope; while, some others hated it for even trying. When the loop is closed by the end of the first movie, the biggest question has always been: what can make a working follow-up to it?
The answer is: REDUX. Happy Death Day 2U is almost like a Happy Death Day Redux. What Landon, who steps in to a full-time writing duty alongside directing, does is an idea redux. The whole plot is botched, re-edited and expanded into a larger scale; meanwhile, the horror-thriller element of the predecessor is reduced, in compensation, the sci-fi elements (which previously work anonymously underground) are given more portion. Landon’s rendition ends up being a similarly teen-slasher comedy, but with a touch of tongue-in-cheek sci-fi.
The movie begins when Ryan (Phi Vu), promoted from a one-liner guy in the previous movie into a prominent one, enters the loop just as Jessica Rothe’s Tree experienced in the first movie. Well, it turns out Ryan’s science project is the culprit of all the mess they experience. Afterwards, Ryan and his science-geek gang along with Tree and Carter (Israel Broussard) must race with the time to close the loop. For Tree, the new time-loop that somehow opens a multi-verse “undoes” the revelation revealed upon her about accepting and letting go; at the same time, it teaches her a new lesson about making choices.
At the same level of versatility, Rothe performs a similarly fantabulous performance with a new conflict. At one level, she condemns the new time-loop for making the experience (and the lesson) she received in the first movie in vain; yet, at the same time, she finds out that there’s something she’s been dying to relive in the new loop. Broussard’s Carter is pushed deeper into the background; at the same time, other characters are either promoted or given some new lights. Phi Vu can surprisingly handle being promoted despite the cliché. It’s also interesting to have Rachel Matthews’ Danielle being a more integral part of the story along with Ruby Modine’s Lori.
One of the most interesting parts of Happy Death Day is that it never explains anything. Here, it finally unravels the nature of the loop and makes it an integral part of the story, although nothing should be taken seriously at this point. The injection of explicit science makes the narrative stutters a little. At some points, the narrative provides no explanation or answer to some phenomena. Let’s say Ryan’s mysterious doppelganger that has been an interesting plot point for a few minutes only. Even so, the whole run is an exhilarating one from the beginning until the mid-credit scene.
Happy Death Day 2U favors most fans of the first movie with campy sci-fi twist and uplifting tones. It’s a fun mess—stuttered at a time, unresolved some other time, yet, exhilarating at its funniest time.