It’s a truth universally known that horror sequels are the very definition of diminishing returns; known, honestly, because it’s mostly true. Even so, this doesn’t mean that further installments in these cinematic worlds are a complete waste of time, with some horror sequels not only doing their original movie proud, but also giving the franchise a new lease of life. Let’s jump in to the follow-ups that didn’t ruin everything!
I can already feel the hackles going up at this pick, which is exactly why I’m starting with it. Friday the 13th is a horror classic because it cemented the tropes of the slasher genre, especially the dead teenagers sub-genre. What followed was sequel after sequel of absolute guff, truly awful filmmaking that stretched a premise that the first film didn’t even put forward to shattering point – that is, until Jason X. The fact that this movie exists at all is a testament to Hollywood’s need to suck a franchise dry, but sending Jason into space (which, funnily enough, the Fast and Furious lot are going next) was a good move. It’s not a great movie, but it is fun and has a hell of a good time skewering tropes that this very franchise created – and what else do you want from a Friday the 13th movie, anyway?
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
Freddy Kruger may have the best sequels of all the slashers. There’s the unsubtle queer theory of Freddy’s Revenge, the weird X-Men-ish Dream Warriors, even Freddy’s Dead has some great kills, but the best has got to be New Nightmare. Without this clever subversive movie there would be no Scream franchise, as Wes Craven expertly deconstructs the infamy of his most famous creation. And casts himself as the grottiest, funniest creep in the process.
The most recent Halloween, in my humble opinion, is a crock of shit: a directionless and inconsistent retread of what H20 already got right. H20 keeps the familial connection between Michael Myers and a grown-up Laurie Strode (y’know, to give Michael a reason to track her down in the first place, unlike the recent movie where he doesn’t give a shit) and puts them on a collision course. This should have been the last movie in the series, but greed is good in Hollywood, and they wiped this brilliant Jamie Lee Curtis classic out of existence in the process.
Not as well known as its American counterparts, the original Rec is one of the scariest movies ever made. Rec 2 picks up before, during and after the original as it follows a SWAT team and a priest as they enter a Barcelona apartment complex in which the a contagion is turning its residents into zombies. It’s far from an original premise, and some of you may be put off by the found footage presentation, but Rec 2 is just as freaky as the original, while also deftly widening the scope of the threat and still adhering to the rules and the ominous tone of the first movie.
The first Saw is a mostly serious well-made thriller that also fits snugly into the horror genre. But it’s the sequel that made Saw the franchise it is today. It’s Saw 2 that upped the gore and the traps, Saw 2 that gave Tobin Bell centre stage to create one of the most iconic villains of the genre,. and it’s Saw 2 that doubled down on the insane twists and turns that became inherently more ridiculous as the series continued. And it also just so happens to be my favourite of the series.
By Kevin Boyle
Header Image: Bloody Disgusting