New movie franchises are a gift to production companies. All productions start out believing they will be successful enough to spawn sequels; however, most are wrong. The movies chosen have at least three two additional sequels to date. The following franchises created new possibilities for horror movies by pushing the boundaries of what came before.
A new type of movie franchise, the Final Destination movies follow a group of friends who have escaped catastrophic deaths, by one member’s psychic vision. Having thwarted death’s plan, all that have escaped start to die in succession as the rest try to figure out how to stay alive.
A classic I’m running away in the forest motif is paired with in-bred cannibals. The cannibals are present a variety of genetic mutations or genetic decay that makes each character unique/identifiable in the course of the franchise. Desmond Harrington (Dexter), Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse), Emmanuelle Chriqui (Entourage) and Jeremy Sisto (Suburgatory) star as prey in the first film.
The first Saw movie brought fear to a new level. Like the movie Se7en in the 1990s, Saw presented victims that were punished for their deeds. Unlike Se7en, Saw gave its victims a way to redeem themselves, a penance of sorts, to survive. The franchise tried to retain storyline integrity; however, with so many successive sequels, it became somewhat derivative.
The brilliance of Hostel is two-fold: Hostel takes the helpless fear of foreign travel, and blends it with the collective unconscious fear of waking up as a prisoner/victim (as presented in the e-mail myth of waking in a tub of ice without ones kidneys). Set in the former Czechoslovakia, Hostel tugs at lingering fears of what is being revealed from behind the iron curtain.
Here come the ghosts. Paranormal Activity is the most successful found footage franchise to date, with nearly annual sequels. This movie requires the appropriate setting for full enrichment. Unlike Final Destination which makes a great horror party movie, Paranormal Activity is best viewed in intimate groups.
It is difficult to know what movies will turn into franchises based on their first or second movie. For example, the direction taken in The Hills Have Eyes II left fans wondering when the next film would emerge. It has yet to. Successful franchises are those which either stick to their original concept, or do not take themselves too seriously when they deviate.