From tales of masked, knife-wielding men to gory accounts of water-averse monsters with dietary restrictions, horror is one of film's most versatile genres. While scares come in all shapes and sizes, horror fans seem reluctant to engage with sequels that retread nightmares from years past.
Die-hard fans will always show up for a new Michael Myers outing or the return of Jigsaw, but horror sequels rarely draw the same crowds enjoyed by never-before-seen monstrosities.
Despite what you may have heard, not every horror followup misses the mark established by its predecessor. Many diverge from established narrative arcs to dig deeply into the grotesque possibilities of their universes. Some of the best horror movies are also sequels, and a few prove to be scarier than the originals.
- Photo: Universal Pictures
The story follows Kevin Crumb (James MacAvoy), a loner whose dissociative identity disorder manifests in the form of 23 distinct personalities. After one of Kevin's more violent identities kidnaps three young women, the protagonist begins an internal battle over the treatment of his prisoners.
A modest budget – it was reportedly made for $9 million – helped limit the film's scope, and Shyamalan’s penchant for final-act twists pays off big time, especially if you're familiar with his early work.774217Underrated follow up?
- Photo: New Line Cinema
Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro is known for his visual style, and his sequel to the Marvel-inspired vampire-hunter film Blade boasts some of his most visceral imagery.
Blade (Wesley Snipes) is a righteous human-vampire hybrid who's sworn to protect the blood of the living. Blade II takes place two years after the first film wraps, and finds Blade in an uneasy alliance with his vampiric enemies. While they don't see eye to eye, they've found a mutually threatening foe: a mutated line of vampires known as Reapers who are intent on killing everyone, regardless of species.
Del Toro’s affinity for imaginative character design really pays off, as the Reapers' faces resemble blooming flowers with pitbull fangs. At the box office, the film was the highest grossing installment of the Blade franchise, and cleared its production budget by a considerable margin.565301Underrated follow up?
- Photo: 20th Century Fox
Whereas 28 Days Later examined the fall of London in the wake of a viral outbreak, 28 Weeks Later picks up months after the virus has been contained. As NATO attempts to return the country to a state of normality, a second outbreak occurs, leading to some unbelievable moments that make the original film seem tame.
While the film failed to surpass its predecessor’s box office take, it more than delivers as a smart followup. Once you've seen a hoard of zombies get mowed down by the blades of a moving helicopter, it's hard to be scared of slow, old-school zombies.634347Underrated follow up?
- Photo: Paramount Pictures
The Cloverfield franchise launched in 2008, and has since spawned two followups. All three entries enjoyed guerilla marketing campaigns – the straight-to-Netflix film The Cloverfield Paradox released after a single ad announced its existence at the 2018 Super Bowl - which definitely has pros and cons.
While the approach yields tremendous buzz, most people don't think about old advertisements once a film is released, so the movies have a hard time sticking in the cultural consciousness.
Despite the franchise's ephemeral status, 10 Cloverfield Lane is anything but forgettable. The film started off as an original property titled Valencia, but adapted Cloverfield's signature aesthetic (shaky, handheld camera, enormous reptilian monsters) to benefit from name recognition.
John Goodman plays the alternately violent and caring Howard Stambler, a doomsday-prepper who brings Michelle and Emmett into his subterranean bunker to protect them from a supposed nuclear fallout. What follows is a thriller that evokes the containment horror of Panic Room or Saw.542302Underrated follow up?