Happy Death Day 2U Parent Guide
A surprisingly heartfelt darkly comic horror movie with a strong emotional core and lots of laughs. Suitable for teenage fans of the genre who aren't easily frightened.
Parent Movie Review
In Happy Death Day 2U, Jessica Rothe reprises her role as Theresa “Tree” Gelbman, a young college student who recently escaped a lethal time loop by realizing that her roommate was trying to kill her all along. Now safely in “tomorrow”, Tree believes she is safe. That is, until fellow student Ryan Phan (Phi Vu) starts fiddling with his high-powered science project, launching her not only into another time loop, but into a separate dimension. In this dimension, not only are she and her boyfriend not together, but her roommate never tried to kill her, and her mother is still alive. With a little help from Ryan and some other science majors, Tree might be able to get back to her own dimension: but will she even want to? And what would the costs be of staying? While Tree puzzles out her moral dilemma, a new killer stalks the campus…
The best way to describe this film to anyone who hasn’t seen the original Happy Death Day is that it’s Groundhog Day meets Scary Movie. Thankfully, however, Happy Death Day 2U manages to avoid some of the exceptionally explicit and coarse humor of the latter and sticks to a more darkly funny tone. I hadn’t seen the first one when I walked in, and I was expecting a mindless, sophomoric slasher flick. What I got was a surprisingly heartfelt dark comedy with a strong emotional core and a few half decent laughs in between. Jessica Rothe brings a lot of spirit to the film and manages to squeeze some actual emotion into what is otherwise a remarkably silly plot. By balancing the dark comedy with genuine emotion, Happy Death Day 2U, while still not a spectacular film, becomes pretty darn watchable.
Parental concerns are fairly obvious, with a laundry list of comedic (but still somewhat gruesome) violent scenes and a similar list of profanities. That said, as far as horror comedies go, this one dodges a lot of the typical genre concerns. There is almost no sex whatsoever, beyond the usual college couples making out, and not a single scene involving drugs or alcohol. Unusually for movies set on campus, Happy Death Day 2U actually has less sex, alcohol, and swearing than any real college campus. Although it probably isn’t terribly appropriate for younger teens, and certainly not for children, this would work well mature teens with a taste for horror movies, and is certainly one of the more palatable entries in the genre.
While this isn’t going to redefine your expectations of either comedy or horror, this movie does manage to be entertaining (and only minimally irritating) for its hundred-minute runtime. More importantly, it gives the audience some genuine emotions to deal with, which not only grounds the fun and spunky protagonist in what is otherwise a rather goofy movie, but keeps the audience from getting burned out on either its darker jokes, or its sillier set-piece gags.Directed by Christopher Landon. Starring Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine. Running time: 100 minutes. Theatrical release February 13, 2019. Updated February 16, 2019
Happy Death Day 2U
Rating & Content Info
Why is Happy Death Day 2U rated PG-13? Happy Death Day 2U is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for violence, language, sexual material and thematic elements
Violence: An individual is stabbed in the chest. Someone is pushed from a window and some blood is shown spraying from the impact, although the body is not seen. An individual is clubbed unconscious with a sports trophy. A character is stabbed repeatedly in the chest. An individual is stabbed in the abdomen and some blood is shown. A person accidentally runs off the roof of a building and dies. There are several suicides shown because the movie’s plot requires the character to be murdered or die to reset the day. As such, we see the character electrocute herself in the bath (fully clothed), drink drain cleaner, jump out of a plane without a parachute, leap into a woodchipper, and jump off a bell tower. An individual is knocked unconscious when struck in the back of the head with a phone. A bloody corpse is shown. Two individuals are killed in an explosion. We see someone deliberately crashes a car into a power transformer. An individual is shot several times in the chest, although this is in self-defense. Another character is shot non-fatally in the abdomen. An individual’s head is slammed into the ground. Someone gets shot in the chest. A man is crushed by a wheelchair and stabbed with a screwdriver because of a powerful magnet.
Sexual Content: Several couples are shown kissing. A woman is shown in her bra and underwear as she falls from an airplane. A man’s bear chest is shown: he is only wearing a towel. One person is reprimanded for staring at a character’s chest. One unnamed individual makes a quick and non-specific comment about group sex. Some women are seen in tight or revealing dresses.
Profanity: There are approximately five dozen profanities in this film including two sexual expletives and four sexual hand gestures, almost two dozen scatological curses, 12 terms of deity, and a variety of anatomical terms and crude words.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None shown, although one character is referred to as having been drunk earlier and hungover.
Page last updated February 16, 2019
Happy Death Day 2U Parents' Guide
Tree is put in a position where she has to choose between two people she cares deeply about: How would you respond in a situation like that?
Do you think that using death and violence for comedic purposes is inappropriate, or do you think it acts as a healthy safety valve for people’s anxieties about death?
Tree relies on her friends to help her, even though it brings some risk to them. How much do you rely on your friends? Do you think there was a way Tree could have minimized their risk?
Tree’s top priority is her family. How much do you think family matters?
Read books about Happy Death Day 2U
Young horror fans who want something to read that won’t keep them up all night can try the following novels.
R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series brings horror to a kid’s level. Slappy Birthday to You and The Birthday Party of No Return are both suited for older kids and tweens who want a birthday-themed scare.
Kids and teens who enjoy scary stories can turn to A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz. This collection of fairytales is definitely not sanitized or Disney-fied for young readers. Great for teens and tweens who aren’t freaked out by violence and gore – even if it’s tongue in cheek.
Tweens will also be scared by Claire Legrand’s The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. Creepy details and an unsettling conclusion will keep kids reading.
Older teens and adults looking for scary - but not terrifying - reads can try these books:
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie features a group of strangers invited to an island…where they proceed to be murdered one by one.
Agatha Christie’s Sleeping Murder tells the story of a young woman who buys her first home, only to experience terrifying flashbacks and eerie coincidences.
Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier features a young woman caught in a web of fear when she moves to her new husband’s breathtakingly beautiful estate - which is haunted by his memories of his late wife.
Related home video titles:
If you are looking for a horror film that is suitable for younger viewers, try The House with a Clock in its Walls. This movie is rated PG and while it has lots of scary content, it isn’t gory and can be watched by older kids who aren’t too sensitive.
Coraline is another scary movie that is suitable for kids or teens who want something creepy but not too disturbing.
A PG-13 horror/thriller movie, A Quiet Place, features aliens that use their hearing to hunt human prey. Suitable for teens, but definitely not for children.
Another youth-friendly alternative is, of course, Harold Ramis’ 1993 film Groundhog Day, which stars Bill Murray as a man forced to repeat one day over and over until he learns some basic lessons about himself and how he should treat others. Arguably an even scarier movie, as according to Ramis, Murray’s character had to repeat the same day for anywhere between 10 and 40 years. Imagine being stuck in mid-February for 40 years. I’ll take two weeks with the masked murderer any day.