Back in 2017, no one expected the slasher flick Happy Death Day to, well, actually be good. Based on appearances alone it should have been a cheesy, unoriginal film that leaned too heavily on the Groundhog Day concept. Instead, director Christopher Landon and Jason Blum brought us a surprisingly hilarious and intriguing low-budget horror film. Happy Death Day cleaned up with its $122.6 million worldwide gross and has a rather strong 70% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
With how many questions left by Happy Death Day, though, it only makes sense that a sequel would be cranked out pretty quickly. The first film follows the simple storyline of a sorority girl stuck in a violent time loop on her birthday, forced to relive her own murder over and over again. Jessica Rothe’s performance as final girl Tree Gelbman, queen of cutting one-liners, was by far the biggest draw for the film, as she brings much of the successful humor and spirit of Happy Death Day.
Tree had to uncover the identity of her killer in time or risk being trapped in the painful loop until she finally succumbed to her growing list of fatal injuries. Supporting character Carter, played by Israel Broussard, is the geekishly adorable fellow student Tree is doomed to wake up to each morning. Broussard will be returning alongside Rothe for the sequel, somewhat goofily titled Happy Death Day 2U. As for the unanswered questions from the first film, we can (hopefully) expect for all of Landon’s secrets to finally be revealed. The biggest question viewers have are obviously how and why exactly Tree was trapped in the time loop to begin with, something never resolved in the film.
Back in 2017, Insider spoke with Landon about this mystery. The director makes it clear that there’s definitely a reason for Tree’s predicament:
“The answer to why she’s literally stuck in a time loop — it’s something I have the answer to. It’s in my back pocket, because, knock on wood, you never know how things are going to go, and we’re not counting our chickens, but if I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to make a sequel, the answer to that question is the premise of my sequel.”
He goes on to say that the explanation is hiding in plain sight in Happy Death Day, which definitely prompts a rewatch while we wait for the coming follow-up. The secret of the original finally being revealed is already a major incentive to watch Happy Death Day 2U (despite that unfortunate title) as the lack of explanation was cause for major complaint — even among those who enjoyed the film.
The director has claimed that there are several easter eggs in the first film that point towards the reason for Tree’s predicament, but now it seems we’ll finally nail down some clear-cut answers. Deadline reports that the synopsis so far is simply that “Tree will discover that dying over and over was surprisingly easier than the dangers that lie ahead.” A somewhat cryptic tidbit of a plot, it could hint at a break from the Groundhog Day-reminiscent plotline that does not feature another time loop.
Instead, details about Happy Death Day 2U might be inferred from its intriguing Valentine’s Day release date. The horror pic coming out on February 14, 2019, hints at the movie centering around the paper heart-filled holiday, rather than Tree’s birthday. With how relevant her birthday became [Spoilers Redacted], serving as Happy Death Day’s emotional center, the holiday switch up might not be very effective. However, everyone loves a good holiday horror film, and Valentine’s Day-themed entries are in relatively short supply (My Bloody Valentine excluded). With how apparently carefully thought-out Landon’s could-be series is, the sequel could be just as unpredictably good as the first.
Joining the Death Day cast along with the original leads are Life of Pi star Suraj Sharma and American Horror Story actress Sarah Yarkin. Jason Blum will produce again, with the film debuting February 14th of next year, as mentioned. That’s the same release date as the highly anticipated X-Men film Dark Phoenix, which should make for an interesting box office week.