Happy Death Day 2U proves that the time loop that trapped Jessica Rothe’s Tree wasn’t quite as closed as the original film’s conclusion suggested.
More than that, it actually delves into how the time loop was created, putting the blame firmly at the feet of Carter (Israel Broussard)’s room-mate Ryan (Phi Vu), who was so funny in the original that writer and director Christopher Landon knew that he had to have a more prominent part in the sequel.
How Happy Death Day 2U is different to the original
“I wanted him to be the reason this all happened,” Landon tells Metro. “So I followed that trail of breadcrumbs. ‘They’re at a university. He could be into physics. What if he built something?’ But the big a-ha moment was when I realized I’m not just going to stick her back into a loop, I’m going to knock her into a different dimension.”
But does that mean that people that missed the original should skip Happy Death Day 2U?
“No,” writer and director Christopher Landon tells Metro. “It’s funny. I was a bit nervous about that when I wrote it. When we did the first test screening, we made sure a quarter of our audience were new people who had not seen the first movie and we made sure that they followed it. Reassuringly, we didn’t have issues in that department. Audiences and people are pretty sophisticated and savvy and they can pick stuff up pretty quickly so that’s a plus.”
Landon is quick to insist that people that have seen the original “will enjoy it more ultimately because there’s so many easter eggs and things hidden in the second movie.” That’s a sentiment that Broussard echoes. “Obviously if you go back and see Happy Death Day you’ll get a lot of context and you’ll be along for the ride. Then by the time you get to the second one you’ll see the stakes have been raised and there’s been a little more emotional depth.”
The decision to proceed with a follow-up was a simple one for Blumhouse, as the original made $125.5 million from just a $4.8 million budget. But, despite this success, the stringent studio still only increased the budget by less than $3 million. Not that Landon is complaining.
“It forces filmmakers to be more creative. We don’t get to have endless tools. I can’t stuff the movie with CG shots. I don’t get to have a big giant shooting schedule. I have to be really economical. It forces you into a pretty creative place when you don’t have those options.”
Landon also knew that these constraints would work perfectly with his idea for Happy Death Day 2U, which he wanted to feel completely different to the original.
“If I’d tried to keep things very similar in terms of tone and genre it would have felt redundant. I just didn’t want to put people through something that felt like the first experience. Part of that was changing the tone of the movie and leaning more into the sci-fi element. Leaning a little bit more into the comedy and figuring out a new mystery to solve.”
“A very conscious choice that I made was pace. The first movie relied on repetition, the machinations of that slowed things down just in the virtue of having to repeat the day. This time I wasn’t burdened with that. So I was like I’m going to kick things off real quick, keep it moving and I’m never going to stop. That was my desire.”
Happy Death Day 2U is released on February 13, 2019.