Happy deaTh day 2u i The time-loop horror’s director guides us through his circuitous sequel…
Ever get that feeling of déjà vu? Sleeper hit Happy Death Day (2017) saw sorority girl Tree (Jessica Rothe) trapped in a time loop and killed, repeatedly, until she could solve her own murder. In the upcoming Happy Death Day 2U, Tree finds it’s harder to escape than she thought. Teasers asks returning director Christopher Landon how to make a dead-good sequel when he’s already told the same story, again and again…
“I just knew you can’t do the same old, same old,” Landon muses.
“I would rather take a bigger risk and do something a little bit batshit crazy and swing for the fences.” It’s ironic, then, that his biggest risk is to throw Tree right back into the same old, same old. “Tree gets trapped in the same day, again!” laughs Landon. “But not in the way that you could ever expect.”
Change The genre
Even Landon admits that Happy Death Day can be boiled down to a simple pitch: Groundhog Day meets Scream. This time, he’s shaken up the influences. “I was really into Back To The Future Part II and
Weird Science. We have a very strong sci-fi element to this movie.” A key difference is that Tree is no longer alone. “This time, she has a team,” Landon teases.
Build The myThology
Given his experience writing and directing Paranormal Activity sequels, Landon knows how to unfurl a story over multiple movies. Which helps explain why the time loop in Happy Death Day went unresolved. “I felt it would feel like dull exposition. I wanted to explain it with a whole other movie.” Drumroll… “This time, people will 100 per cent know how and why Tree ended up in this loop.”
aCknowledge The fans
Returning – quite literally – to the first film’s events has helped Landon to recapture what worked before. “It’s important not to ignore your fanbase, to still satisfy them and do some stuff that they can recognise and appreciate,” he says. Does that mean that newbies to Tree’s world should catch up with Happy Death Day? “Oh God yeah, big time! We actually do a recap so we can help people along, but the experience of the new movie is greatly enhanced by seeing the first movie.”
Be True To The Tone
The emotional arc of Happy Death Day was Tree’s journey from selfish bitch to nice gal. As Landon notes, “It’s an unusual thing to see in a horror film. It’s more of a romcom thing.” So rather than up the violence, Landon was keen to ensure that “it’s still very much about Tree’s evolution as a character – the tone of the movie doesn’t really support it becoming some sort of gore-fest”. But fear not, horror fans. “She dies a lot!” Landon promises.
ETA | 15 FEBRUARY / HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U OPENS NEXT MONTH.
serial killing Jessica Rothe’s Tree (below) is back reliving her own murder at the hands of a baby mask-wearing killer (above).