Happy Death Day 2U is not as much of a sequel to the surprisingly excellent Happy Death Day, as it is a second chapter in what has all but been confirmed to soon be a trilogy. The formula from the first movie has mainly been kept intact, with only a small dash of sci-fi/comedy added and a sliver of slasher formula removed. Name-checking Back to the Future 2 within the first fifteen minutes of the movie is appropriate in more ways than one.
It’s no surprise, then, that the time-traveling element is still the core of the story, though with a twist. After the cause of the previous film’s time loop is revealed, protagonist Tree inadvertently gets sent to an alternate dimension. While similar to that of the first movie, it sees some unexpected changes in the characters and their relationships, and a killer is once again on the loose.
In that sense, the biggest standout isn’t found in the actual movie, but rather in the credits. Scott Lobdell, the original’s sole screenwriter, is here only named the creator of the characters. 2U has instead been written by the duology’s director, Christopher Landon. I can’t help but speculate if he also was an uncredited writer on the first movie, which stayed in pre-production for almost a decade. It seems plausible he would have had a hand in changing things up during that time. But I digress.
There frankly isn’t a whole lot more to say about 2U that I haven’t already talked about in my write-up on the first movie. Both are largely similar, yet 2U does not feel like a retread of the original, but rather a peer.
Mind you, 2U does score a bonus point for being the funnier entry: Jessica Rothe once again hams it up as Tree, and Carter’s dorky roommate Ryan (Phi Vu) gets a lot more screentime. The addition of newcomers Suraj Sharma and Sarah Yarkin as Ryan’s lab partners too work out in the movie’s favor.
Happy Death Day 2U follows in Back to the Future 2’s footsteps more than conceptually. That eighties classic also worked as a peer to its predecessor, while featuring advantageous additions. They both can claim to be among the best time traveling sequels of all time. (I mean, that’s one huge list!)
Now, have Happy Death Day 3 follow in the footsteps of Primer, and we’ll have something really interesting on our hands.