Happy Death Day 2 U (2019)

Happy Death Day 2U.pngDirector: Christopher B. Landon
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews, Steve Zissis, Charles Aitken, Laura Clifton, Blaine Kern III, Missy Yager, Jason Bayle

Produced by Blumhouse Productions, 2017's Happy Death Day was a fantastic blend of Groundhog Day and the slasher subgenre, which saw the lead Tree caught in a time loop, and reliving Monday the 18th everytime she died. Naturally, it made enough money to justify a sequel, and the creative forces defied expectations with the brilliant title alone, making a sequel that's more than just the first film done again.

Having survived multiple deaths in a time loop, Tree (Jessica Rothe) is happy to finally be moving forward with her life, enjoying it with her boyfriend Carter (Israel Broussard). This time around, it's Carter's roommate, Ryan (Phi Vu), who's stuck in a time loop, with a knife-wielding killer in a baby-faced mask after him. Tree attempts to help Ryan through his problem, but is unfortunately sent back to square one, reliving Monday the 18th on a loop all over again.

It's clear Christopher B. Landon wanted to make this sequel unique from its predecessor, and certainly does that by changing gears, and becoming a film akin to Back To The Future Part II. This makes for an utterly inventive and enjoyable time which plays with what was depicted in the first film, but any viewers who watch this without seeing the first film may find themselves a bit lost. Through this genre mash-up, the slasher elements get the short end of the stick, proving less inventive, and feeling like an afterthought. There's also a last minute attempt to nod to 80's teen films, which involves Rachel Matthews pretending to be blind, and this aspect feels unneeded, as though it's there to beef up the runtime.

Once more, Jessica Rothe puts her all into the role, and manages to be the best thing about the film. She makes every element of Tree feel believable, be it her frustration at having to do it all yet again, her take charge attitude which drives her to resolve things, and how she's torn between holding onto the past, or letting go to embrace the future. While the former felt entirely like Tree's film, this follow-up is a group effort, with Phi Vu being an utter joy in his expanded role, Israel Broussard making a welcome return to the affable Carter, and welcome additions in the forms of Suraj Sharma and Sarah Yarkin.

Happy Death Day 2 U is an inventive sequel which goes for broke, brilliantly delivering on the laughs and science fiction. The slasher elements, less so, but it remains an extremely fun time spent with well drawn characters, and the mid-credits tease is the perfect set-up for a potential third instalment