The four biggest problems with horror movie prequels



Warning: all kinds of spoilers and some possibly disturbing images ahead! 

How high can the stakes really be?

I would like to start this by talking about Insidious: Chapter 3. The poster claims “The scariest chapter goes back to the beginning.” I wholeheartedly disagree with that for all sorts of reasons, which I’ll touch on here and more below. First off, as far as returning characters 

Ruining the mystique of the antagonist

Muddying the water of a franchise

I’d like to issue a disclaimer: I liked Prometheus. A lot. I saw it in theaters twice.

Do we really need to know why or how things are the way that they are?

In the Purge franchise, the United States was in a real bad way before the Founding Fathers swept in to save the day. They would go on to create the Purge, a yearly twelve-hour period where nothing is against the law, there are no emergency services, and a good chunk of the populous just goes bananas. The first Purge film told us pretty much everything we needed to know about that world and The Purge: Anarchy just ran with it to, in my humble opinion, great success.

I do not care about how the Founding Fathers came into power and I certainly don’t need to see the first Purge. There are an infinite amount of stories that can be told in this universe, so why go backward? The second film built up an arc that could continue into future films, but I’d rather see what the Purge is like in rural places or a city like Texas or Portland.

I know lots of people are probably curious about how or why things are the way they are or how they came to be in movies like The Purge, but when you have such an open-ended premise, you really ought to just run with it. Did we need to learn about Father Merrin and Pazuzu’s first encounter thirty years after the original Exorcist? Not really. Would we really be better off with a film chronicling the creation of the pet cemetery from Pet Semetary and how it came to be? No (although I’ve always wondered about the wendigo from the books…)

The exception to the rule: a good horror movie prequel

I have seen three out of four of the main installments of the Paranormal Activity franchise (excluding the original and the spin-off), and of the three I’ve seen the prequel is hands down my favorite