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Happy Death Day 2U’s after credits scene lays out the tricky future of the franchise

Whether that’s a good thing or not is yet to be seen

happy death day 2u star Jessica Rothe as Tree in after credits scene Universal Pictures

Happy Death Day 2U features the kind of after-credit scene you’re more likely to see in a Marvel flick than a horror sequel. I don’t think we have to warn you of this, but just in case...

[Ed. note: this post contains major spoilers for Happy Death Day 2U]

In the scene, we see Tree (Jessica Rothe) and the gang celebrating her successful return to the correct dimension when a cavalcade of black vans pull up. For a moment I legitimately thought Nick Fury would step out, but instead it’s DARPA; They’ve confiscated the Sisyphus Quantum Cooling Reactor, the time loop macguffin, and now they need a team to run it. Who better than a group of college undergrads, most of whom are probably suspended due to the antics of the climax?

Tree comes with them, and not just because she’s survived the time loop twice (or technically a few dozen times). She also spent most of the movie’s Mondays learning how the reactor works; she might well be the foremost expert in the world on how the multiverse functions, which is not sentence I thought I’d be able to say after watching the original Happy Death Day.

DARPA asks for a test subject to run through a loop. True to the movie’s commitment to torture-as-self-improvement, they set up Danielle (Rachel Matthews), the cruel leader of Tree’s sorority. Presumably she’ll be focus of the next entry, although the character isn’t particularly interesting or complex. The main comedic sequence with Danielle, a one-note gag about pretending to be blind and French, was the weakest part of the movie.

The sci-fi aspect is new for the sequel, and the after-credit scene underscores how important it will be going forward in the franchise. The experimental origin retcons the first movie, which vaguely hints at a divine cosmic intervention meant to save Tree. Here we learn it’s nothing so grand or purposeful — just a hiccup in time. If that experiment hadn’t been conducted, Tree would have been dead come Tuesday morning.

That change adds a layer of happenstance that opens up the potential for a longer franchise — but I’m not certain emphasizing sci-fi is the right direction to move in; The scientific hand-waving was the weakest part of HDD2U. Although it was mainly used to prop up the action, the pacing would have tighter if they had lampshaded the science talk, and moved on to more interesting scenes. Leaning into it feels like a risky move.

The Happy Death Day formula could have been endlessly reiterated with new characters in a new setting, so it’s remarkable that the franchise is challenging themselves to use the same characters, and changing the formula. The question remains if the quality can keep pace, or if time will move on without them.