Picking up immediately after the events of 2017’s Happy Death Day, Happy Death Day 2U follows Jessica Rothe’s Tree Gelbman as she and a few others (including Israel Broussard’s Carter) attempt to solve the mystery of the series’ infamous time loop. Filmmaker Christopher Landon does a fantastic job of immediately drawing the viewer into the briskly-paced proceedings, as Happy Death Day 2U opens with an intriguing stretch focused on one of the first movie’s periphery figures (Phi Vu’s Ryan) – with the film quickly seguing into a narrative that doesn’t, impressively enough, feel like a complete retread of the original. It’s a feat that’s mostly accomplished by an unexpected emphasis on the characters’ sci-fi-tinged exploits, and there is, as such, little doubt that the picture suffers from a lack of horror elements that’s fairly jarring and, admittedly, a little disappointing (ie the Baby Face killer is barely in this one). The pervasively lighthearted vibe consequently paves the way for a hit-and-miss midsection that’s often just a little too lighthearted for its own good, which ultimately does ensure that Happy Death Day 2U fizzles out considerably in the buildup to its oddly abrupt finale – with, generally speaking, the uniformly charismatic performances sustaining one’s interest even through the more overtly laid-back sequences (eg a mid-movie heist). The end result is a decent yet rather forgettable followup that does deserve credit for taking the story in an entirely new direction (and genre), and yet it’s difficult not to wish that Happy Death Day 2U had stressed the scary, creepy attributes that defined its predecessor.
**1/2 out of ****