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2017’s Happy Death Day was an easy-to-describe premise that worked fairly well: it’s Groundhog Day with a slasher. Protagonist Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) was kind of a terrible person, and at the end of the day, which happened to be her birthday, she would always get murdered by a mysterious figure. The only way to break the loop was to stop her killer so she could make it to the next day. Like Groundhog Day, it was never explained how Tree got into the time loop, but it didn’t really matter. It was a fun whodunnit anchored by Rothe’s winning performance. Happy Death Day 2U tries to rekindle the fun by adding in a sci-fi aspect with some heavy sentimentality involving Tree’s mother, but the concoction feels too sloppy and haphazard. There are still some fun moments to be had and Rothe remains a charismatic force, but 2U definitely comes off as a rushed cash-in rather than a fresh idea.
The sequel picks up by following Ryan Phan (Phi Vu), the inappropriate roommate who was more of a marker than a character in the first film. Now it appears he’s being stalked by a baby-masked killer and suffering the same dilemma Tree had in the first film. It turns out the loop is being caused by a device Ryan and his friends Samar (Suraj Sharma) and Dre (Sarah Yarkin) built in the college’s science lab. When Ryan tries to activate the device to stop the loop, it ends up sending Tree back to her Death Day, but this time in a parallel dimension. In this dimension, she’s no longer with Carter (Israel Broussard), but her mother is alive. Tree is faced with the dilemma of either closing the loop or returning to her dimension, but either way, she has to die...
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