The Happy Death Day franchise has been a pleasant surprise. What could’ve been a dumb Groundhog Day knock-off has instead turned into a consistently enjoyable, even charming franchise, boasting a killer lead performance from franchise star Jessica Rothe. Happy Death Day was a blast, and this year’s Happy Death Day 2U was even better. But while the sequel ended with a set-up for a third film, director Christopher Landon says Happy Day Day 3 won’t be happening anytime soon. And that’s disappointing.
Happy Death Day 2U was not a box office bomb – it grossed $28,051,045 on a $9 million budget. And yet, the sequel to 2017’s Happy Death Day fell short of projections, and it looks as if Blumhouse has had enough. At least, that’s what franchise director Christopher Landon says.
— christopher landon (@creetureshow) July 17, 2019
I’m not happy about this. I’ve grown to love the Happy Death Day franchise, and would’ve loved to have seen Landon close out the trilogy. In Happy Death Day, Jessica Rothe starred as Tree Gelbman, a somewhat unlikable college student. Tree finds herself stalked, and then murdered, by a masked figure on her birthday, and normally that would be the end of the story. But it’s just the beginning, because Tree is forced to re-live the same day over and over again, Groundhog Day-style, until she can stop the killer.
What made Happy Death Day so surprising was just how fun it turned out to be. I’ll admit I avoided seeing the film in theaters due to lackluster trailers. Once I caught it on Blu-ray, however, I was pleasantly surprised. Happy Death Day was delightfully clever, making great use of its time-loop premise. On top of all that, it boasted a remarkable performance from Jessica Rothe, who possesses a confidence few young performers match these days.
Happy Death Day 2U took things to the next level. It leaned into the comedy side of the premise, and gave Rothe even more to do. Not only was she funny in the sequel, she was also given some emotional heavy-lifting – one particular scene where she’s reunited with her (previously dead) mother actually made me tear up. The sequel expanded the mythology of the franchise, and introduced brand new elements involving alternate dimensions and other insanity. It was even better than the first film, and left the door open for an even wilder sequel. “I do have the idea for the third one,” Landon said when Happy Death Day 2U opened. “And I really hope that people go see this one so that I can make it. Because it’s bonkers…This one’s more bonkers. But it fits!”
Alas, it’s not to be. And what a bummer that is.
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