By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Though 2017’s Happy Death Day is somewhat entertaining, I feel that the time loop plot has already grown tiresome and that the humor and thrills simply are not enough to elevate this horror-comedy. Well, two years have passed and a sequel is now about to open in theaters. I have to admit, I wasn’t too thrilled to revisit this world, but as it turns out, I was more than pleasantly surprised. With a much more interesting spin on time looping and with some superbly written and executed humor, Happy Death Day 2U is that rare sequel that outshines its predecessor and enriches its own universe.

Jessica Rothe reprises her role as college student Tree Gelbman. Immediately following the events of the first movie. this second chapter takes its characters through another life, death and time dilemma once again. As it turns out, the original time loop gets caused by a college science experiment gone haywire. Ryan Phan (Phi Vu) and his classmates Samar Ghosh (Suraj Sharma) and Dre Morgan (Sarah Yarkin) have created an ingenious device that alters time and allows travel between multiple universes.

When the trio first tests their creation, it traps Tree into her death loop. However, it also causes Ryan to have a loop of his own. When everyone attempts to remedy the problem Tree gets inadvertently sent to a parallel universe where some things are better, while others are worse. Caught in another dying time loop, Tree seeks out the help of Carter (Israel Broussard) and the others to restore things to normal.

Written and directed by Christopher Landon, Happy Death Day 2U has plenty of creative storytelling, exciting thrills, and exceptional humor to genuinely take this franchise in a bold, new direction. Though the some of the ideas are derivative of other time loop and time travel stories, the lovable wit and charm really sells it all well and has actually made a fan out of me. Christopher Landon wears his inspirations proudly on his sleeve and even acknowledges one of them with a delightful pop culture reference. This movie could have been so utterly and frustratingly convoluted, but Landon manages to pull it all off nicely.

One of the strengths of the first film is the talented cast, and this time is no exception. Jessica Rothe offers much heart, strength and comic wit this time and makes Tree a highly lovable and admirable protagonist. Israel Broussard brings a boyish charm to his character Carter once again, making him a welcome recurring character in the franchise. Though he only had a limited part in the first movie, Phi Vu gets to display hus stellar comedic chops in a major way here. Also returning is Rachel Matthews, who portrays Tree’s snobby sorority sister Danielle Bouseman. In this installment, Rachel is also given the chance to score many hearty laughs as a more entertaining character.

Simply put, Happy Death Day 2U is a way more entertaining film than its first chapter will ever be. I have to hand it to Christopher Landon for steppung up his game and building on the strengths of previously laid foundation. Fans of the first film are sure to delightfully crazy over what Landon and company have in store for them. As for the not-so-easily impressed like myself, they are in store for a good, solid, welcome surprise.


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