Happy Death Day 2U is the sequel to Happy Death Day and one of the first horror films of 2019. We were able to speak with the costume designer, Whitney Anne Adams, regarding her career and creative process for the film.

How did you get into costume design?

“I did theater my whole life. I had been doing acting in high school, and I wasn’t very good at it. I got into costume design my first year of college, and I’ve always been a film person. I owned around 500 films by the time I finished high school, so movies were always a huge part of my life. It also came together in college. Then I worked theater for a few years and moved to New York after graduation where I worked on costume designs for Broadway. There I met Baz Luhrmann and his wife, costume designer Catherine Martin. I assisted them for a while and that’s how I got into film.”

With the exception of two projects, I notice there’s some similarity in tone. Are the darker stories the ones you tend to gravitate to?

“I like working on all genres, but films like Happy Death Day 2U are what I’ve been working on recently. I love designing for thrillers and horror movies because there’s many fun avenues for design. And you can have a more heightened world which allows you to have a little more fun. I really love doing anything. Another project I would love to do is a period musical. So I love to run the gamut of projects.”

Is continuity a concern when you’re a new designer on a sequel?

“That was a huge part of the sequel. There are many costumes that carry over from the previous film. We’re also creating a huge new chunk of this world that we haven’t seen yet and creating new characters.”

How does working with a special effects department factor into your process?

“I had to not only talk to the special effects designers but the visual effects designers as well. Lots of coordination and planning. I needed multiples for different effects. There needs to be blood and stunt doubles. I needed to plan out how many multiples were required. For example, if an actor was wearing a harness, it would have to fit underneath their clothing.”

What kinds of visual themes did you go for this time?

“We really got to look into Tree’s closet this time around. There’s only two costumes that carry over. So we get to learn more about who Tree is. And that was a rather fun challenge. I wanted to show her evolution as a character while building new characters around her.”

I can look at the photos and tell it’s a horror film. Do you work directly with cinematographers to get that effect? 

“Our DP [Director of Photography] Toby was incredible. We worked together on colors and what would work right in each scene. We had fun because there’s a lot more color in Tree’s wardrobe and in the movie as a whole.”

Happy Death Day 2U is available through various streaming services, and you can find more of Whitney’s work in other notable projects like HBO’s Barry and The Great Gatsby.

Jason Payne

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