When we last saw plucky college student Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe), at the end of 2017’s serviceable genre exercise “Happy Death Day,” she had unmasked her killer and broken the time loop that was causing her to relive the day of her murder (which also happened to be her birthday) over and over again. “Happy Death Day 2U” sends Tree back to that day, only now it’s in a parallel universe — one where Tree’s boyfriend (Israel Broussard) is dating her nemesis (Rachel Matthews), but where her mother is still alive. The “Groundhog Day” thing is still happening, but the killer is different.
This was never a “horror” premise so much as a sci-fi/mystery, and the follow-up, written and directed by Christopher Landon (who directed the first one), emphasizes the comedic aspects and downplays the whodunit even more. Tree is positioned as an exasperated, Buffy-like heroine, leading a crew of nerds trying to fix the quantum mechanics science project that caused the time warp, all while navigating her feelings toward the boyfriend AND solving the mystery of who’s killing her this time. Tree’s deaths (some of them deliberate, to “restart” the day) are often funny, as is her annoyance at having to do this again. Fans of the first film will find it much more pleasing than she does.
B (1 hr., 40 min.; )