The main goal of making a sequel is to make money, sure, but it can also be about more than just that. A writer may feel as though there’s more story to tell, or that a complete story has yet to be told. A passionate director may share enthusiasm about the story they wish to build from, with an often dedicated cast and crew. There are many contributing factors in making a movie and the end result is hit or miss.
In the case of horror sequels, the stakes are raised and the expectations are high. Some will love them, others will hate them, and the box office return or home video unit sales numbers are just enough to warrant a potential next installment. Whether a sequel offers more of the same story and structure as its predecessor or something entirely different, it’s not going to win over everybody — and that’s okay. But are they all really that bad?
It’s arguable, seeing as horror has more sequels, prequels and reboots than any other genre of film, and there’s an incredibly huge and supportive fanbase.
Here are ten of the most underlooked and unappreciated horror sequels.
1. The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)
Last year’s arrival of The Strangers: Prey at Night wasn’t as eventful as some may have hoped. While it did make a profit, could the decade-long wait have negatively affected its release? That’s right, this sequel was first announced after the financial success of its predecessor in 2008. Whereas the original is tonally warm and is stylistically reminiscent of raw, suspense-filled 70s horror, The Strangers: Prey at Night is as 80s as can be.
Bailee Madison’s and Lewis Pullman’s performances contribute greatly to the sequel’s appeal, and if you have siblings, I’m sure you’d agree that the connection between the characters in this movie is one of its highlights. What seems to fall short for a lot of people is that there’s no story behind the random act of violence and the disruption of these character’s lives. In a world filled with senseless violence, does there really need to be a reason for this to work?
2. Saw 2 (2005)
The Saw franchise is notorious for its torture porn goriness and shocking twist endings, but some don’t quite hit their marks as well as the original. Saw 2, on the other hand, does — and it’s darker and grittier than the first. The plot is simple, throwing strangers with a connection in a decrepit, trap-filled house, but its effective in that one of the characters is the innocent son of a crooked cop.
The cast is likeable, especially Tobin Bill and Shawnee Smith, and Charlie Clouser’s score beautifully compliments Darren Lynn Bousman’s direction. Hardly anything feels out of place and both Leigh Whannell and Darren co-wrote a coherent story, sturdy enough to stand with its predecessor.
3. Child’s Play 3 (1991)
Brad Dourif returns to voice Chucky/Charles Lee Ray in the franchise’s third entry. Although it was released the following year, Child’s Play 3 jumps several years after the events of the 1990 sequel, once again focusing on Andy Barclay. He’s 16 years old and placed in a military academy, meanwhile Play Pals — the company manufacturing Good Guy Dolls — are rebooting their product for a new generation.
Don Mancini’s script feels rushed, but that could very well be because of the huge pressure of following a successful sequel and the studio wanting this movie out in less than a year. Child’s Play 2 was released in November of 1990 and part 3 debuted in August of 1991. Aside from some questionable performances, it actually holds up and is entertaining to watch.
4. Scream 4 (2011)
The fourth installment in the Scream franchise feels even more unnecessary because 5 and 6 never happened. Even still, Scream 4 manages to be entertaining and brings back Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, reuniting them with director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson. The story is once again set in Woodsboro, where Dewey and Gale live and Sidney’s touring to promote her self-help book.
I won’t lie, Scream 4 offers some of the franchise’s most cringe-worthy scenes and the entire movie feels like someone slapped a warm, fuzzy filter on it, but it’s still a huge step up from Scream 3. This sequel/reboot may have underperformed at the box office (as if it was ever going to beat Hop), and the studio’s expectations weren’t exactly met, but the story needs to be finished.
5. Psycho 2 (1983)
Psycho 2 seems more widely accepted now than what it used to be. Even still, there are people who feel strongly about a follow-up to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic. However, with great performances by Vera Miles, Anthony Perkins and Meg Tilly, I think it holds up pretty well. There are a lot of nods to the Hitchcock film, but it doesn’t overshadow the sequel’s tone, nor does it steal its identity.
Norman struggles with rehabilitation, Lila seeks revenge and goes so far as to include her daughter, Mary, who’d much rather leave Norman alone. Tom Holland wrote a terrific script, Jerry Goldsmith’s score composition adds to the story’s emotional depth, and Richard Franklin’s directing is stronger here than in 1981’s Road Games. As far as sequels go, this is view worthy.
6. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer is what happens when you’re trying to record lightning in the same place that it struck moments earlier, without any success whatsoever. Be that as it may, as far as sequels go, it’s certainly not the worst. Jennifer Love Hewitt and Freddy Prinze Jr. reprise their roles as Julie and Ray, who are still both emotionally dealing with the events of the previous film.
Setting the movie at an out-of-season resort isn’t a bad idea. Adding a storm is actually a great idea and gives the characters we’re supposed to be cheering for yet another obstacle to try and overcome, all while fighting off a killer. Is it a tad convoluted and contrived? Yeah, it is, but it’s still pretty entertaining and you may end up having a good time.
7. Wrong Turn 2: Dead End
Joe Lynch is an underappreciated director and Wrong Turn 2: Dead End is proof of that. It may not be the most original story ever told and some of the acting isn’t the best, but compared to some of the later offerings in the franchise, this is the best of the sequels. Henry Rollins stars as the hot of a reality TV show that seems like a Survivor rip-off.
Wrong Turn was a pretty decently made horror movie with some genuinely suspenseful moments and a great cast. It sequel, however, focuses mostly on grossing out its viewers and adding a few gallons of blood to its over-the-top kill sequences. Underneath all the guts and gore is some truly great, humanizing moments with the characters.
8. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
Believe it or not, Tobe Hooper directed The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and shot it as a dark comedy, as opposed to a full on horror film like the original. While it’s nowhere near as great as the original, it’s a solid sequel and has some of the best scenes in the franchise, including one of the greatest jump scares in the horror genre. Leatherface and his family have their sights set on a radio disc jockey who overheard a murder while being on the air.
Just like Wrong Turn 2, the gross-out factor is raised from its predecessor, and somehow, the Sawyer family is whackier and more insane than ever. The realistic and gritty approach of the original is understated here in favor of focusing on the dark, theatrical humor that seems less apparent in the 1974 film.
9. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
By this point in the franchise, Freddy was no longer scary and people loved the character anyway. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is definitely not the best sequel in the franchise, but it’s certainly one of the more entertaining ones. At first, the story seems to follow characters from the previous film, but as the story unfolds, the new characters are just as likeable, if not more so.
The main attraction to the franchise, Robert Englund’s Freddy Krueger, is at the height of his mainstream popularity in The Dream Master, having just returned from Dream Warriors. The nightmare sequences are a little wilder and feel like something more in tune with Goosebumps, but they’re creative.
10. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
I was surprised by how good Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood actually is. The story focuses on a character named Tina, who, along with her mother and a sketchy doctor, goes back to her childhood home near Crystal Lake to work on her trauma and her psychic powers. While there, she meets a group of people planning a birthday party. From that description, it’s understandable how cheesy someone may find it.
John Carl Buechler’s directing is good, the lead actors give adequate performances and Kane Hodder makes his debut as Jason Voorhees. It’s not nearly as entertaining as Part 2 or Part 4, but as far as sequels in the Friday the 13th franchise go, it could be a lot worse. The unfolding story isn’t as predictable as some might think going into this. The only thing wrong with The New Blood is that it doesn’t keep the momentum of Jason’s return from the previous installment.
These sequels aren’t Oscar worthy, nor are they close to being the greatest films ever made. Regardless, they’re entertaining in their own right and not given nearly enough credit. It’s understandable going to theaters or checking out a movie at home and expecting something these movies were never going to be, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re as horrible as they could’ve been.
Of the 10 sequels, which have you seen and how do you feel about them? Be sure to comment below and let us know your thoughts.
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