Happy Death Day 2U Review and Exclusive Interview with the Cast

One would be sadly mistaken to assume that Christopher Landon’s sequel to Happy Death Day is simply a cheap spin-off of the first frightful, déjà vu-inducing film. Happy Death Day 2U, despite its Groundhog Day gone Slasher inspired vibe, is anything but a repeat, and its numerous plot twists and turns bring new life to the storyline that is sure to fulfill even the wariest of audience members. The characters of Happy Death Day 2U pick up right where they left off at the conclusion of the previous film: Tree and Carter (played by Jessica Rothe and Israel Broussard) are happily coupled up, the dreadful time loop of death has ended with the unmasking of Tree’s sorority sister, Lori (played by Ruby Modine), as her murderer and everything else is just as it should be—or so we thought. Cut to Ryan, Carter’s roomie (played by Phi Vu), falling out of his charming Kia Soul in a sleepless stupor. He heads back to his dorm room to find Tree and Carter kissing, and at this point, the scene is starting to feel all-too-familiar. We’re pretty sure we’ve definitely seen Tree in that borrowed Dumpstahphunk baseball tee before. The movie is familiar, except lots of aspects are all brand new too and suddenly, we’re introduced to new characters like fellow science geeks Samar and Dre, an unlikely villain known as Dean Bronson, a science project called “SISSY” that slows down time and sends Tree into an alternate universe and even a clone of Ryan! You read all of that correctly. It gets really weird, really fast.

Courtesy: Universal Pictures

 

When questioned about their new castmates and whose shoes they’d like to take a stab at filling, both Jessica Rothe and Israel Broussard had to take a moment to contemplate. Ultimately, Broussard responded: “Phi’s character, I’d have to try Ryan if anybody. That’d be fun to do.” On the other hand, Rothe answered: “I think mine would have to be Danielle, just to be that unapologetically bitchy looks like so much fun.”

Back to SISSY though, because we find out that this machine was the reason the time loop happened in the first place. There was never any deep cause behind Tree’s struggle. It was all in the name of science, and with one button pressed, Tree and the gang get thrown into an alternate universe where Tree gets to die again (and again and again and again and again and again) while looking out for her friends who are also targets of the infamous babyface masked murderer this time around.

On top of the expected horror and the much-needed and ever-present comedic relief, audiences should be prepared for a lot more emotion from the sequel than what they saw in the first film. Not only will viewers be shocked by complicated plotlines like the return of Tree’s late mother and an unlikely love triangle between Tree, Carter and sorority sister Danielle, but they even find out what Carter is always searching for under that Godforsaken desk at the start of each day! *Spoiler alert* It’s his retainer. The comedy, horror and tear-jerking scenes are placed in a way that heightens each aspect and offsets the potential for the movie to feel repetitive. In fact, when interviewing Broussard, he mentioned that the cast had a lot of freedom to get creative while filming the more repetitive scenes, and he said, “It’s very arduous, but when you’re actually in the scene and something messes up and it works, there’s just a lot you can play around with.” Rothe seconded that by adding, “Although the scenes are the same over and over again, each time Tree learns something new and slightly adjusts herself. It changes how Carter will respond or how Danielle will respond.”

Courtesy: Bloody Disgusting

 

Moreover, the sequel allowed for a fresh exploration of relationships and a deeper understanding of each character. Tree and Carter’s new relationship, for instance, was a connection that fostered true chemistry onscreen. When asked about how that connection was built offscreen between the stars, Rothe answered, “It helps so much that we get on very well, and not only that, but we both really respect each other and the work that we do and that’s half of the battle.” Broussard went on to say, “You have to like the people and, thankfully, we love each other. What was nice is that I found I could be a little bit more myself in the second one.” Since Cree’s (Carter + Tree) honeymoon phase is cut short by the alternate universe love triangle between Carter, Tree and Danielle, there was a lot of room for their characters to grow. When discussing this struggle for the new couple, Rothe remarked, “Tree had to decide what she wanted and really fight for it, which made what could’ve just been a really lovely fling something worth fighting for.”

While on the topic of personal growth, when thrown back into the time-loop, Tree makes the decision to, as Rothe puts it, “take control of her own destiny” by offing herself at the end of each day instead of being hunted by her murderer—which makes for a hilarious montage that was, according to Broussard and Rothe, a hot topic of debate during rehearsals for the film. Rothe even joked about 30-minute discussions about “the best ways to have Jessica die.” Another interesting facet of the sequel is how it explores Tree’s personality through her wardrobe that was basically nonexistent in the first movie, with Tree wearing the same T-shirt and jeans day in and day out. When we spoke with Rothe about that aspect she responded, “It was amazing. Our costume designer, Whitney Adams is just the best human being in the world. She has incredible style and she put me in things that I was like ‘can I just take this home?’ It was also really fun because not only are we exploring Tree’s wardrobe in a new way, we’re also exploring alternate Tree’s wardrobe. That’s one of the incredible things about what we do: every single person, whether it’s the costume designer, the lighting designer or the set deck, influences the choices that we make.”

Another tidbit that audiences may not know is that Rothe did a fair amount of her own stunt work—minus the nine-story drop performed by her stunt double in just two takes! Rothe went on to praise their stunt-doubles, “They empower us to do a lot of our own stunt work so they would teach us how to do things; whether it was a fight or learning how to fall correctly and safely, we all kind of walked out with new skills.” Broussard chimed in, “They rather us go in and do our own thing because it looks more real. Feels better too.”

On a more serious note though, each character is tested emotionally, physically and even morally, and it’s incredibly exciting to see the growth of each of them over the course of a 100-minute film. Whether you’re a horror film buff, or you’re just looking for something to do this Feb. 14, “Happy Death Day 2U” is a must-see for people of all ages. In its second go-around, the film seamlessly weaves together the greatest aspects of rom-com, thriller, drama and horror, of course!