Remember that slasher movie from a couple of years ago, about the college student who kept reliving her birthday – and also her murder – over and over again?
Well, the story didn’t end with that one. After all, we had no idea what caused that freaky time loop in the first place.
And now here comes the sequel, to tell us why and show us more.
Fun fact: the original was written by Scott Lobdell, a comic-book writer known for his influential 1990s run on Marvel’s X-Men titles.
Why is this important? Because Lobdell successfully carried over one particular skill of his trade – that of getting a reader to take an interest in a character who is new to them, in a relatively short time – to the first movie.
In doing so, he got us to care about Happy Death Day’s central character Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) despite her initial self-centredness and awful attitude towards the people around her.
The characters and character development of the original were also among its high points, in addition to its trippy and twisty plotting.
Lobdell is not involved in the sequel, but here’s the good news: Christopher Landon, who directed the original, also takes on scripting duties now and does a pretty good job of it.
Not only does he expand the circle of interesting characters, he even expands the story by tossing in concepts that would have been right at home in one of Lobdell’s more complex X-Men storylines.
This sequel is also even more nerd-friendly than the original, with its Star Trek technobabble, references to Back To The Future (even something out of Star Trek V), and believable meld of science fiction with slasher flick.
It turns out that Ryan (Phi Van), the roommate who kept being forced to sleep in the car in the first movie, and his science nerd buddies have something to do with the weird goings-on.
Without giving too much away, suffice to say that, although the sequel initially seems to focus on a threat to Ryan, it soon becomes all about Tree again.
Only with a few differences.
Oh, and also with a lot of death-day-looping again, and some really funny moments … well, as humorous as can be, considering the macabre and bloody circumstances.
It is not all humour in a jugular vein (thanks, Mad magazine); Landon also effectively weaves some universal truths about the human condition into the story, giving it added depth.
Although these life lessons are nothing we haven’t heard before, the cast – especially the hugely watchable Rothe (who slips from one emotion to another as effortlessly, and surprisingly, as James McAvoy phases through a gallery of personalities in Split and Glass) – gives these moments a surprisingly strong emotional bearing.
If the situations sometimes seem repetitious, Landon puts enough of a curious spin on them to make it all fresh again.
As a result, the sequel is just as much frenzied fun as the original but with a bit more heart to boot. Just take the occasional silliness in stride and don’t overthink things, and you’ll be fine.
Oh, and remember not to run off just when it seems everything is over, because … mid-credits sequence! Otherwise, you’ll have to relive it all over again.
Catch this movie at Golden Screen Cinemas nationwide. Follow GSC on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Happy Death Day 2 U
Director: Christopher Landon
Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Van, Ruby Modine, Suraj Sharma, Rachel Matthews, Sarah Bennani