“Happy Death Day 2U” takes the “Groundhog Day" meets “Scream" formula set up by its predecessor, and adds in a mix of “Back to the Future” for good measure.
One of the main reasons that the first “Happy Death Day” worked so well was because it took the time-reversal premise of “Groundhog Day” and mixed it with the slasher film with comedy aspect of “Scream”. It was this mixture of “who done it” mystery of finding out the killer’s identity mixed with the comedy of the characters knowing and manipulating the events of the day that gave the film its charm.
However, in “Happy Death Day 2U”, the suspense and mystery of the killer’s identity is focused on much less. Instead, the main problem the characters face is dealing with the device that one of the characters created that has transported main character, Tree (Jessica Rothe), to an alternate dimension and was the result of Tree reliving the same day over and over again in the first film.
This time around, Tree is much less concerned with discovering the identity of the killer than she is with deciding if she should stay in this new dimension or return to her own. In this new dimension, many of the normal aspects of Tree’s life have changed, in some ways for the better and in some for the worse, so Tree must make a tough decision.
In this new dimension, Tree’s mother is still alive, however she is no longer dating the man that she loves. Therefore, Tree must decide who means more to her and who she wants to be with. This helps fit in with many of the film’s themes.
While the first movie focused more on surviving for the future, “Happy Death Day 2U” focuses on not living in the past. When she learns that her mother is alive in this dimension, Tree has to decide if she wants to stay in the world with her mom, or if she wants to return to her dimension and take a chance on a future with her boyfriend.
“Happy Death Day 2U” also amps up the dark comedy from the first film. Much of the humor comes from Tree’s ability to restart the day and void any consequences that she has created. Much of the ways she resets the day are extreme and overly complicated and makes for a good laugh.
One of the best things that “Happy Death Day 2U” does is adding depth to characters who were not well developed in the first film. Some of these characters include Carter’s roommate Ryan, who only had a single repeated line in the original film. In this film, much more is revealed about him, and he takes on a larger role rather than being a punch line.
“Happy Death Day 2U” is a worthy successor to its original and lays the groundwork for what could potentially be a great franchise.