*** (out of four)
Happy Death Day 2U is the surprisingly good and inventive sequel to the surprisingly good and inventive 2017 horror/comedy, Happy Death Day. The first movie was essentially Groundhog Day (1993) as a slasher movie, with snotty college girl Tree Gelbman living her birthday over and over again until she prevents her own murder and discovers the identity of the killer behind the baby-face mask.
2U makes the bold move to switch genres. While the baby-face killer is still in this one, the horror elements take a backseat to science fiction and fantasy. Instead of Groundhog Day, this sequel borrows from another sequel: Back to the Future Part II (1989).
Tree (Jessica Rothe, charming as ever) returns to get zapped into an alternate universe where the same day is on a loop, meaning that the killer is someone different than in the original timeline. Also, Tree's mother (Missy Yager) is alive in this alternate reality.
Everyone returns for this sequel, even the same New Orleans locations, and it is fun seeing the actors play different variations of their characters. For instance, Rachel Matthews's witchy sorority sister in the original is now—in the alternate universe—a good-hearted, but kind of dumb theater major.
New to the series is New Orleans actor Steve Zissis (Baghead, The Front Runner), and he is hilarious as the mean college dean.
Sure, there are holes in the plot, but what really bugged me was a lame montage of Tree taking her own life in goofy ways. This was meant to remind us of a similar montage in the first movie, but here it comes off as very forced. Thankfully, this descent into badness is brief. Otherwise, Happy Death Day 2U is a fun and refreshing sequel.