Happy Death Day 2U review: can history repeat itself?

What begins as a ‘same again’ sequel, as Ryan teams up with Tree to escape multiple deaths at the hands of another baby-masked slasher, quickly turns super-meta. A machine Ryan’s been working on looks as if it could be the cause of the time loops and, worse still, it might just have opened a portal to the multiverse. Now Tree is back in the frame, the killer isn’t the same one as in the original movie (no names, for spoilers’ sake) and with every new death she succumbs to, she’s getting weaker.

Packed with pop-culture references from Inception to Back To The Future 2, Happy Death Day 2U leans away from its slasher roots and quickly becomes a comedy caper as the team – which includes Tree’s boyfriend Carter (Israel Broussard), Ryan, and his techy mates Samar (Suraj Sharma, the kid from Life of Pi!) and Dre (Sarah Yarkin) – combine their skills to solve the mystery, close the time loop and save Tree’s life.

Sharp, snappy dialogue, inventive, funny deaths and a couple of great rug-pulls combine to give this the pacey thrills of a ’90s high-school romp (we’re thinking something like The Faculty), while one shock reveal could’ve taken this down a dark Time Crimes-esque path. But by the final act, some of these big ideas have been sidelined for an emotional subplot that doesn’t quite ring true. A love story element, which may be there to appeal to a teen demographic, feels like it belongs in a different film, the action grows (unintentionally) repetitive and a whole interesting early thread is entirely forgotten.

Rothe is a charismatic lead, but her co-stars don’t have much chance to develop characters of their own outside their function to the plot, and the post-credits sequence (yes there is one) adds little except a chance for a third part.

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