Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Real Reason The Happy Death Day Movies Were Rated PG-13

Time loop movies offer ample opportunities for comedy, as evidenced by the likes of Groundhog Day and Palm Springs, but ultimately, they provide a chance for self-reflection. We've all been stuck in a rut at some point where all the days blend together with one another, but even when time seems frozen, there's still a chance to grow as an individual. 

That's the lesson Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) has to learn in the time loop horror flick, Happy Death Day, when she becomes a better person by ending her affair with her professor and making amends with her father. While she makes it out of the loop by the film's end, she finds herself right back where she started in Happy Death Day 2U where Tree proceeds to get killed in a number of new ways. 

Part of the horror of these films is the inevitability of Tree's numerous demises. You know the killer is out there somewhere, so it's just a matter of paying attention and waiting to see what exactly happens to Tree and her friends. You never know where Babyface is going to pop up next, which is good for a jump scare even if the kills themselves are fairly subdued. Neither film really goes all in on gore or torture, which was necessary for the duology to maintain their PG-13 ratings. Now we know why director Christopher Landon decided to tone it down from what it could've been.

Christopher Landon thought Happy Death Day was a 'sweeter... broader movie' warranting a more accessible rating

Christopher Landon recently sat down for an interview with ComingSoon.net to discuss his latest horror flick — the decidedly gory and R-rated Freaky. Similar to how Happy Death Day utilizes the time loop trope, Freaky has fun with body-swapping movies along the lines of Freaky Friday and 13 Going on 30 but with a horror twist involving a serial killer, the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn), switching bodies with an average teenage girl, Millie (Kathryn Newton). With the mind of a murderer, she goes on a rampage killing pretty much everyone she comes into contact with, and unlike Happy Death Day that tends to cut away before we see anything too grisly, we see copious amounts of blood with Freaky

When asked about the difference in ratings, Landon talked about how the concept of Happy Death Day was more suited for the PG-13 treatment: "It worked, I think, in its favor, and also just because it felt like a sweeter kind of broader movie." He then contrasts this with Freaky by asserting, "I kind of felt like conceptually, if you really want [the] idea of these two very different people swapping bodies, it had to be gory and bloody, just for contrast purposes. There was something to me very amusing about this sort of shy, sweet girl in high school, and suddenly she walks around like brutally murdering people."

Both movies effectively utilize both horror and comedy elements; however, the comedy from Happy Death Day stems from watching Tree having fun with zero consequences in her day-to-day life, i.e. walking through her college campus naked. Meanwhile, the comedy from Freaky is intrinsically linked with the kills, so the bigger and bloodier the better. Perhaps the Happy Death Day franchise could get a little more risqué if Landon's idea for a crossover with Freaky ever gets off the ground.