Happy Death Day 2U bends more genres than a night of birthday drinking. The first film was a pleasant surprise. No one expected the merge of 'Groundhog Day' and 'Scream' to work so well. Whilst I did have issues, it was enjoyable enough for me to recommend. Now, less than two years later, we are presented with a celebratory sequel. Is it the birthday treat we all wanted? Or a present no one asked for? Well, abit of both. Whilst not as fresh as its predecessor, it still manages to be innovative by bending various genres. Following the events from the first film, Ryan is starting to experience the same time loop that Tree survived. It becomes revelatory to them that it all started from a science experiment, to which sends Tree into a parallel dimension where she must re-live the same day whilst trying to find her way back.
My original criticism for the lack of answers regarding the "déjà vu" that Tree experienced is finally squashed. This sequel answers that by throwing in some cerebral sci-fi mumbo-jumbo to explain the seemingly unexplainable. The shroud of ambiguity becomes dissipated as a consequence, but in turn allows the story to play on this concept and further develop these students. The first twenty minutes left me underwhelmed, with the script essentially unraveling the core aspect of the original, changing the plot's perspective from Ryan to Tree and using exposition to ensure everyone is caught up, all in the quickest way possible. It all felt too rushed and ultimately had this overshadowing feeling of "cash grab". But, once Tree finds herself repeating her birthday again in an alternate dimension, the story finds its footing and remains just as enjoyable as its predecessor. It's essentially the same story as the first film, but with a few meta twists thrown in that allows certain scenes to become altered (mostly for comedic purposes). It bends various genres and attempts to amalgamate them into one cohesive story. Comedy, drama, suspense, horror, sci-fi and even romance. Each of these elements were executed well. I laughed, I teared up and was occasionally perched on my seat biting my nails.
The problem is that Landon is unable to seamlessly merge them together, creating a disjointed film in the process. Tonally it just doesn't work. For each scene, you have to tweak your mind into reflecting the emotion it is trying to conceive. For example, Tree reunites with a particular character. It makes for a touching moment that is sure to make you shed a tear. However the proceeding scene is comedic, therefore meaning you have to switch your brain to a different genre. A very ambitious piece of meta genre bending, but does not always work as intended. Landon also seemed to have allowed the slasher traits to subside, resulting in this sequel feeling like a teen comedy than a horror film.
Fortunately the cast, particularly Rothe, put in a hundred percent and embrace the story in all its craziness. Landon's direction was solid, and the plot was paced faster than a birthday candle being blown out. If you enjoyed the first film, you'll most certainly be entertained here. It's an emotional rollercoaster with decent acting and an inventive plot, but much like its repetitive story, it has lost its freshness and frequently feels disjointed.