Horror and comedy are a really great mix and the original Happy Death Day was a prime example of that combination. It came from nowhere to surprise the movie going audience and turned into a sleeper hit for the horror studio aficionados Blumhouse.
However, this sequel to that movie does something odd and unexpected. It really switches genre. Oh, it is still comedy, but the horror aspects, while there in small bits, are pushed aside for a more of a science fiction feel. And I think it works.
One of the top reasons why it works is the great performance from lead Jessica Rothe, returning as Tree Gelbman, the college student who, in the original, gets stuck in a loop repeating the same day that always seemed to end with her death.
She was able to break the loop in the original, but, who knew, she would wind up back in another loop, repeating the same day, once again. This time, however, there are some subtle and some not-so-subtle differences from the previous time.
The film goes into some explanation about why this was happening to her, and, at first, it felt a bit dubious in trying to explain what was happening, and the whole science fiction part was a bit iffy to me. They made references to a certain 1980s movie that the film really is similar to.
However, after a little while, once the stage is set for Tree to be back front and center in the story, the film took off and it became great again. Jessica Rothe is absolutely on fire here and she is the main reason this film works at all. She is intense, angry, upset, emotional and ticked off, many times all at the same time, and pulls it off totally. She emotes everything she is feeling and she also drives much of the comedy, most of which works well.
There are also some real emotional moments that she takes the audience through, much more than what you would expect in a film like this.
I have heard some criticism of the mystery surrounding the killer being weaker than in the first movie and I agree with that, but it is not intended to be. The killer is a side plot that is there to show you different aspects of the character of Tree. It is not the driving force of the plot and is really not that important. It still provides a strong scene near the end of the third act.
There is a mid credit tag that feels as if it is setting up a third film, but it is not near as strong as the rest of the film, though there is a funny joke contained within it.
I enjoyed watching Happy Death Day 2U and feel that it is a strong sequel to a movie I was surprised to like as much as I did.