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Film / Happy Death Day 2U

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Happy Death Day 2U is a 2019 sci-fi black comedy slasher film, and the sequel to 2017’s Happy Death Day. Christopher Landon returns as director while also writing the film, and the entire main cast returns to reprise their roles, with several new additions.

After freeing herself from her birthday death loop, Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) is ready to get her life back to normal now that she’s with Carter (Israel Broussard). However, a school science experiment goes wrong and sends Tree back to Monday the 18th with a new killer on the loose, forcing her to once again relive her birthday, but with a few differences.

A third film, Happy Death Day to Us, is currently in development. Early buzz suggests it will also be a crossover with spin-off movie Freaky.

Happy Death Day 2U provides examples of:

  • Alternate Timeline: The bulk of the film takes place in an alternate version of the events of the first film.
  • All There in the Script: It's not until the end credits that you find out that Ryan's lab-mate Dre doesn't have a celebrity-baby-style weird name: it's short for Andrea.
  • Ascended Extra: Carter’s roommate Ryan appeared sporadically in the first film for a few gags, but here he plays a very crucial role in the creation of the loop.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Stephanie Butler ends up shot by the Babyface Killer. However, she was his accomplice in Lori's murder and gleefully tried to kill Lori and Tree just beforehand.
    • After seeing that Danielle is a bitch in both timelines, Tree suggests her for DARPA’s experiment, presumably trapping Danielle in the death loop.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: While pretending to be a French student to distract Dean Bronson, Danielle throws in a 'gracias'.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Danielle attempts to distract Dean Bronson by pretending to be a blind French student, complete with an atrocious accent.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Lori was willing to kill Tree for having an affair with Gregory in the first film. Now she's the one having the affair, but Gregory has upgraded from being a jerk to becoming the Babyface Killer in order to kill Lori and make sure she doesn't reveal their affair.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: When she needs to pass on information from one loop to the next and doesn't want to just wait for the killer to kill her, Tree instead commits suicide in the loops so that she can die on her own terms. Partly subverted as the killer in the alternate timeline isn't after Tree, but Lori. The only times the killer goes after Tree is when she gets in the way.
  • Big Bad: Gregory is the killer in the alternate timeline, wanting to silence Lori for their affair. His wife is also in on it and willing to kill in order to preserve her reputation, but she's not a Babyface Killer, and Gregory ends up killing her too, as he "wants a divorce."
  • Big Damn Heroes: Tree gets a couple moments coming to other characters' rescue from getting killed.
    • Tree saves Ryan from the killer early on while in the locker room just as the killer is about to kill Ryan by bashing his head in from behind.
    • Tree does it again later on in the hospital in the final loop storming right into the room Tombs and Lori are in and ordering Lori to move right before shooting Tombs dead as he had been released and about to stab Lori from behind, Lori not knowing Tombs isn't sedated.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Tree kisses Carter just as the machine is being started to stop the loop in his timeline, and thus bring Tree back to her own. It plays in slow motion and surrounded by sparks.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Danielle is just as much of a bitch in the parallel dimension as she is in the regular one, but there she makes a conscious effort to put up a facade of being a generous and selfless person who cares about children in need. Her act is so convincing that Alternate Timeline Ryan admires her and Alternate Timeline Carter doesn't even realize she's only dating him so he will do her homework for her.
  • Blind People Wear Sunglasses: Invoked. Danielle wears glasses when she is pretending to be blind in order to distract the Dean (using her audition material for Helen Keller) while Tree and the others break into his office to retrieve the reactor.
  • Bloody Hilarious: Tree goes through a suicide montage in order to solve the algorithm needed to close the loops. This involves skydiving without a parachute in her underwear or waving to someone before she downs a bottle of drain cleaner.
  • Brainless Beauty: Danielle. She mistakes Helen Keller for Anne Frank, for one. Danielle herself calls Sigma Frat Boy Nick 'dumb as a rock'.
  • Call-Back: Several to the first movie, some mixed with Irony.
    • In the first movie, Tree confronts Tim over his semi-stalking her and his being gay. In the second movie, when Ryan's time-looping September 19, Tree, Carter, and Ryan head to the basketball game. Tree sees Tim with a hunky male date, and gives him a congratulatory smile and a thumbs-up.
    • Gregory Butler can't seem to stop cheating on his wife. He just shifts from Tree to Lori.
    • When Tree realizes that the alternate Lori is Gregory's mistress and it's not making her very happy, Tree repeats to her Carter's lines from the first movie that inspired Tree's own Character Development: that it's never too late to change, and every day is a chance to be someone better.
    • In the first movie, it's heavily implied that Tree's final spur towards becoming a good person AND falling completely in love with Carter happens when he is killed trying to save her from John Tombs - remember, he's known Tree for less than a day from his point of view. In the second movie, Carter's character trait of risking his life to stop near-strangers being murdered holds true. This time, however, it's Lori. In both cases, Tree reacts the same way, she kills herself to make the loop repeat in order to save him.
  • Car Fu: To prevent the cycle from being closed, Tree rams her dad's car into the local power plant.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: While the comedy is still very present, this time Tree faces moral decisions that can get heart-wrenching. Especially as her mother is still alive in the alternate timeline.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: In the alternate timeline, Danielle is rehearsing for The Miracle Worker, which requires that she pretend to be blind. This comes in handy when Tree and Carter need to distract Dean Bronson in order to steal back Sisi.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Samar, after being smitten by Danielle's figure and rejected, asks if her calling him "Samosa" means she finds him tasty and thus he could have a shot.
  • Continuing is Painful: This time, the implication that the loops are taking Tree's strength is going all the way, as she downright feels weaker by the last ones.
  • Covers Always Lie: Unlike what the poster shows, there is no cupcake involved in this movie.
  • Cowardly Lion: Samar spends most of the climax shrieking that he's going to get expelled and his parents will kill him, but that doesn't stop him from helping Dre block the lab doors and, when that fails, grabbing the nearest fire extinguisher to spray the security guards trying to take Sisi.
  • Dean Bitterman: Dean Bronson is a jerk who seemingly cares more about image and "patents" than education and scientific achievement. He's also an asshole to Ryan who deems his thesis project a failure and plans to confiscate his reactor. However, he's not entirely without reason as the reactor keeps causing rolling blackouts, fried circuits and broken light bulbs throughout campus and the nearby hospital every time it's turned on. He becomes our heroes' biggest obstacle in their attempts to undo the time loops.
  • Death as Comedy: Tree's various suicides are all Played for Laughs this way.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The opening act briefly suggests that Ryan will be the protagonist and get trapped in the loop, just like Tree did. His plot is resolved fairly quickly and serves as a catalyst for Tree to end up in an alternate version of the loop from the first movie.
  • Died on Their Birthday: Just like in the original film Tree is trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop on her birthday where she dies. However, this time around, Tree must repeatedly kill herself at the end of each day so Ryan and his team can test new algorithms to try and break her out of the loop.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Danielle may be an insufferable bitch in every dimension, but that really doesn't merit being "volunteered" as test subject for a time loop.
  • Doing In the Wizard: The film does away with any notion that the time loop from the first film was divine or magical in nature, explicitly showing it to be the unexpected result of a science experiment.
  • Double Entendre: During his rant about shutting down the Sisi project, the Dean refers to another professor (presumably Ryan, Dre and Samar's supervisor) as 'Doctor Boner'. Ryan quietly corrects his pronunciation by replying "It's Bonner".
  • Evil Counterpart: The original version of Gregory from 'our' Tree's universe was not a good person by any definition, but the alternate universe version is an outright murderer. In contrast, the first film's killer, (Lori Spengler) actually is the good person they pretended to be in Tree's universe.
  • Flipping the Bird: Tree does this after the skydive jump just moments before landing in front of Carter and Danielle as they make out.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: When Tree storms into the Kappa house in her first day of the second loop, Danielle doesn't come out of the living room in her yoga gear, much to her confusion. A minute later, she discovers there's no cupcake from Lori. It's what clues Ryan in that Tree's now in an alternate timeline.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The first time Tree enters the Kappa house in the alternate universe, she has Carter and Ryan in tow. Right before she confronts Lori about the (now non-existent) cupcake, Lori greets Carter by name. Shortly afterward Tree finds out the hard way that Carter is dating Danielle. So of course Lori (who's a nice girl in this universe) would know the guy who's dating her sorority sister.
    • Inversion, further to the above: when Tree wakes up on the 18th (again!) she's so busy anticipating his lines that Carter never says "I don't know if you remember my name, you were pretty wasted". Tree just says "Pretty wasted?" Since Carter's dating Danielle in this universe, of course the alternate Tree knows his name. If Tree had let Carter talk, he would have said something like "I don't know if you remember coming back here, you were pretty wasted last night."
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • The white board in the Sisi lab includes an admonishment to "stop taking my food!"
    • Tree's Dumpstaphunk shirt was of an Austin concert, but once she's back in the loop, it's of a New Orleans one, showing she's not in the same timeline.
    • In the first movie, Carter and Ryan's dorm room was covered in posters for classic sci-fi and horror movies. In the second, at one point it focuses on the wall directly above Carter's bed, and there's a poster for Back to the Future (though you can't tell if it's for part one or two).note 
  • Fun T-Shirt: During the Failure Montage, Tree wears one reading "FML" (in the trailer, it's censored to "OMG").
  • Genre Savvy: Tree basically has become this due to her last experience, and pretty much knows what to and what not to expect regarding the killer, although it takes her a while to become this regarding the parallel universes and time loops.
  • Genre Shift: While the first film was a black comedy with traditional slasher elements and genuine scares, the sequel is a sci-fi with more straightforward comedy, with its slasher and horror elements downplayed.
  • Good Counterpart: Lori was the villain of the first film, but in the alternate timeline, it was her, not Tree, who had an affair with Gregory, removing her reason for hating her. When a handcuffed Tree is attacked by Babyface, Lori pulls her into an elevator to save her, then goes ahead of her carrying a sledgehammer to defend her.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Tree clearly is not taking well seeing Carter dating Danielle.
  • Groin Attack: Carter taps Ryan in the nuts to prove he’s not dreaming after he experiences his own death loop.
  • Hard-Work Montage: Tree spends several weeks worth of loops memorizing all the failed equations that Ryan and his team try so that they can figure out how to break the loop.
  • Here We Go Again!: Tree is trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop again. She doesn't take it well.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Gregory, who works on MRI machines all day, meets his demise through one as Tree magnetizes a screwdriver into him so that it fatally stabs him.
  • I Choose to Stay: Tree decides to stay in the new loop when she finds that her mother is still alive. However, after Carter calls her out for trying to relive the past and her mother recounts how she was willing to take a chance on her father, she changes her mind.
  • Immediate Sequel: This sequel picks up the next day after the previous movie. We see the perspective of Ryan before he stumbles upon Tree and Carter in their room.
  • Irony: Mixed with Call-Back to the first movie:
    • In the first movie, Lori killed Tree because Butler ignored her in favor of having an affair with Tree. In the alternate universe, Lori does get to have an affair with Butler, and by the third act seems to be having quite a bit of angst about it - to the point that Butler's trying to kill her to keep her from making a public scandal.
    • In the first movie, Danielle was crushing on Sigma Frat brother Nick,note  who blew her off in favor of Tree (even after she punched him in the Babyface mask). By the end of it, Tree, is no longer interested in anyone but Carter. In the second movie, Danielle is dating Carter but cheating on him with Nick.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Both the 'prime' dimension version of Danielle and her alternate dimension counterpart, though in different ways. 'Prime' Danielle is overtly uncaring, her only concern over Lori's death and her attempted murder of Tree being concern over what it could do to the sorority reputation. Alternate Danielle who is (at least outwardly) nicer still manages to come across as Innocently Insensitive - on playing the part of Helen Keller in 'The Miracle Worker' she says:
      Danielle: I think acting blind must be even harder than being blind.
    • To a lesser degree, Tree herself. When deciding whether or not to stay in the alternate universe, she never seems to consider what might have happened to her counterpart native to that universe, whose life she would be essentially stealing.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Dean Bronson may be a jerk to Ryan, but he's clearly angry and upset over the likely thousands—if not tens of thousands—of dollars in damages not to mention the potential criminal and civil liability of disrupting a hospital because of a student's thesis project.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The first film received some criticism that the school's mascot was too strange and creepy to be believed. While at a basketball game, Ryan complains about how bizarre and creepy the school's mascot is, and that he should have gone to another school.
  • Lighter and Softer: Many characters in the sequel aren't as mean-spirited and cruel as in the first film and Tree's mother is resurrected, whose death was the reason why Tree was so gloomy back in the first film.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Lampshaded and defied. After a whole loop where she stays with the same Dumpstaphunk shirt given by Carter, Tree complains about using the same clothes over and over and ends up in different outfits throughout the time loops.
  • Logo Joke: The Universal Pictures logo is split into three separate boxes to allude to the alternate timelines angle.
  • Meaningful Name: The device Ryan creates is called a Sisyphean reactor, or Sisi for short. This is a nod to Sisyphus, the man condemned to spend the afterlife repeating the same grueling task over and over and over again.
  • Mic Drop: Tree does this with the marker with whom she was writing all the already tested equations (to an unbelieving group of scientists who tested them in the first place!).
  • My Eyes Are Up Here: Danielle calls out Samar for staring at the Impossibly-Low Neckline on the shirt she's wearing.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight:
    • In two time loops, Tree shoots and kills John Tombs, who was armed with a knife and tries to attack her.
    • A masked Gregory confronts Tree (who has a gun) and Lori with a knife and gets shot at when he doesn't back off.
    • More like never bring a gun to a screwdriver-and-an-MRI fight. In the final battle, Tree only has a screwdriver while the Babyface Killer (Gregory) has a gun, which he lampshades. Then Tree activates the MRI machine, launching a wheelchair into him, pinning him and the gun to the machine while Tree aims the screwdriver at his heart, which then kills Gregory when she lets it go.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The line "[the killer] is coming for everyone"? Not true, Babyface still has a specific target, the only extra victims being those who either cross its path or witnesses.
  • No Accounting for Taste: A downplayed example in the relationship between the Alternate timeline Carter and Danielle: the Alternate Danielle pretends to be a nicer person than her prime timeline version (and may even be slightly nicer) and she is still beautiful... but even this relatively nicer version still comes across as a Brainless Beauty who depends on Carter to do her coursework for her. Its a bit difficult to understand why he is dating her.
  • Noodle Incident: Right before Tree gets sent to the alternate universe, she's explaining the time-looping to Ryan, Dre, and Samar.
    Samar: [looks at Dre] Dude, did you dose my YooHoo again?
    Dre: [shakes head]
  • Not Me This Time: Lori is not Babyface in this sequel, different from the last film.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Tree when she gets caught holding an axe right in front of the hospital's security guard.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Once Danielle kisses Carter, it cuts to Tree's point of view, with "O Fortuna" playing to highlight how she's not liking this sight.
  • Police Are Useless: In the alternate universe Tree enters, the hospital security guard is still an idiot.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Continuing with the previous film’s trend, Tree has never even heard of Back to the Future Part II or the series as a whole.
  • Precision F-Strike: The one allowed by the PG-13 rating is used by Tree as soon as she realizes she's back in the loop ("No FUCKING way!").
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Delivered by Tree to Gregory, as she aims a screwdriver at him while he stands in front of a high-powered magnet.
    Tree: You’re screwed.
  • Rage Breaking Point: As soon as Tree is back into the loop, she starts venting off against Ryan, all those extras outside his dorm, and eventually Tim ("YOU'RE GAAAAAAAY!").
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: Alternate Carter blatantly calls out his companions for trying to back out of stealing the reactor, due to them being responsible for creating it and the time loops in the first place.
    Carter:: Are you kidding me? No, I'm sorry to throw a bag of dog shit on your front porch here, but this is all on you guys! You created this mess, so you're obligated to help her out of it! Besides, if she dies again tonight, that's blood on your hands!
  • Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: While the film does still have plenty of horror elements, it's also notably more comedic than its predecessor.
  • Rule of Cool: Essentially the only reason for Tree's extravagant choices in suicide methods, as opposed to more mundane and painless ones.
  • Sadistic Choice: Tree is forced to choose between the reality where her mother is alive and the reality where she and Carter are together. She ends up choosing the latter.
  • Screaming at Squick: Carter and Danielle do this during the suicide montage when Tree goes skydiving with no parachute and lands right in front of them.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Carter compares Tree's situation of having to revisit the events of the first movie from a different perspective to Back to the Future Part II. This is cemented by her attempt to stop Ryan from closing the dimension by accelerating her dad's car to 88 m.p.h. and ramming a power plant transformer. Whether she experienced 1.21 gigawatts is unknown. Also, the wood chipper company is called "Biff's".
    • Ryan's Sisyphus reactor is primarily an array of proton lasers.
    • You have to listen carefully, but when Samar and Dre first come into the lab together, they're discussing the Kessel Run.
  • Spanner in the Works: Crossing over with Did Not Think This Through. Tree's knowledge of events and deduction spoils the killer's plans. In the final loop, Tree has already killed Tombs and she and Lori were in a different part of the hospital when they're attacked by Gregory and his wife. Even if Gregory had succeeded in killing them, he wouldn't have gotten away with it. Tombs was already dead in his hospital room, which made it impossible for him to be blamed. The police were minutes away from the scene, meaning that Gregory had little or no time to clean up the scene or escape. Plus, there's at least one witness who had seen him with a gun. On top of which, Gregory's wife shot Lori with a gun that has her fingerprints on it.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Tree commits suicide by diving headlong into a wood chipper labelled "Tree Removal".
    • The title itself. "2U" initially seems like a gimmicky way of saying "to you", as in "Happy Birthday To You", but since the movie deals with an alternate timeline, part of it takes place in a parallel universe, meaning it can also mean "Two Universes" or "Second Universe".
    • There's a subtle but carefully framed shot of a 'Wrong Way' sign in the loop where Tree almost stays in the reality with her mom still alive.
  • The Stinger: An agent from DARPA picks up Tree and her friends to talk to them about using the reactor for an experiment. Tree suggests an unwitting Danielle as the subject.
  • Suicide as Comedy: This time, the Failure Montage has Tree killing herself to force the loop. It starts with an Electrified Bathtub that gives her an outrageous Wild Hair, and it all goes down from there.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Tree and her friends are forced to do community service for reactivating the reactor and the collateral damage it caused in its wake.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: Again the Failure Montage is scored by a pop song, and this time - Paramore's "Hard Times" - the lyrics are oddly very fitting ("All that I want\Is to wake up fine\Tell me that I'm alright\That I ain't gonna die..."), double with "When I hit the ground..." right before Tree decides to skydive without a parachute.
  • Taking You with Me: One of Tree’s loops has her shoot a flammable gas tank when the killer has her trapped.
  • Time Loop Trap: Played for Laughs during The Stinger. Tree suggests Danielle for DARPA's experiment into the reactor after having to deal with her bitchiness in two separate timelines. Cut to Danielle waking up screaming from what is likely the latest of many days trapped in a time loop.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Suggested with the initial complex explanation for how there can be two Ryans in the original timeline while Tree subsequently 'replaces' her other self when displaced into a new reality. The core of Ryan's time machine is also a solid sphere, enacting a more literal example of this trope.
  • Too Annoyed to Be Afraid: Instead of being terrified by getting stuck in yet another time loop, Tree is just ticked off, especially now that she knows why it's happening. It later turns out to not be quite the same loop. She instead drifted to a parallel reality.
  • The Unreveal: Even though the source of the time loops is revealed pretty early in the film, the reason why the loops anchor themselves unto a specific person and reset upon their death is never revealed.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never find out what happens to the second Ryan but we can assume that, like Tree, he was sent back to his own universe once the loop was closed.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Alternate Carter delivers one to Tree when he learns that she intends to stay in the alternate dimension, essentially robbing the other Tree of her life.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?:
    • Zig-zagged in the final loop. Tree marches right into Tomb's hospital room and shoots him dead just as he's about to stab Lori to death. But when she confronts Gregory, she only fires a warning shot instead of killing him which at least gets him to drop the knife and comply. Justified in that she wants to expose him and let the police arrest him.
    • Then played straight. When Gregory finally has Tree dead to rights, he decides to shoot his wife—who is also his accomplice—instead and then gets distracted by Carter. This gives Tree a chance to run and continue the fight. Then, when he has her dead to rights again, instead of finishing her off, he lets her get in a last word. See Pre-Mortem One-Liner above.
  • Wood Chipper of Doom: Invoked and Played for Laughs as one of the way Tree offs herself during the Failure Montage as they try to figure out how to close the loop. Run by Biff's Tree Removal, no less.