A year ago, in my review of Christopher Landon’s horror-comedy mash-up Happy Death Day, I wrote, “It’s doubtful [it] will have even a bit of the staying power that the all-time meta-horror champ Scream enjoys, but it’s still a rock-solid, laugh-out-loud pseudo-horror flick that hits all the right buttons again and again and again.”

I’ll certainly continue to stand behind that last part, but as for the first bit? Oops.

This thing’s got legs. And, as evident in Happy Death Day 2U, the franchise is actually getting better as it goes along. So, please allow a hindsight-fueled revision— Not only does the Happy Death Day franchise have Scream’s staying power, it may actually be this generation’s Scream.

It’s that fun, that entertaining, and that clever.

Picking up exactly where the original left off, Happy Death Day 2U begins with Bayfield student Ryan (Phi Vu) waking up in the exact same time loop that trapped Tree (the fantastic Jessica Rothe) the first go-round. After a night working in the Physics lab, Ryan gets stabbed by the Babyface killer and immediately wakes up right back where he started. It doesn’t take long for Ryan to figure out that activating his quantum reactor is the issue.

To avoid spoilers, I’ll stop there, other than to say that soon afterward, Tree gets sucked right back into the time loop herself, and Happy Death Day 2U is then off and running in a world of parallel universes, quantum physics, and good old-fashioned slasher fun, including perhaps the most hilarious suicide sequence ever filmed.

Landon, who returned to direct the sequel, took over screenwriting duties from the original’s Scott Lobdell and wrote this script from an idea he first hatched while making the original. And the beauty is that Landon is fully aware that the last thing he (or we, frankly) wanted was a retread of the first film.

While all the original cast has returned, including Tree’s new boyfriend Carter (Israel Broussard), her sorority sister Danielle (Rachel Matthews), and her former roommate Lori (Ruby Modine), Happy Death Day 2U has the distinct feel of being an entirely new movie, all its own (…no mean feat, given the fact that by the end of the two movies we’ll have seen Tree wake up in Carter’s dorm room almost two dozen times). And even though the genre slides, pushing a little away from horror and a little toward sci-fi, it all works together as a cohesive couple of films that will, I presume, blend beautifully together in a back-to-back viewing.

I’m sure there are folks out there who can (and will) point out plot holes and time-space continuum issues (and it’s worth noting that Bayfield University Hospital is still among the most chronically understaffed health care facilities in the western hemisphere), but if you’re in the mood to just sweep away the winter blues with a trip to the cineplex, Happy Death Day 2U is among the most refreshing, smart, and have-a-blast options out there; it still hits all the right buttons again and again and again.


4/5 stars