Popular Horror Movies That Got Way More Attention Than They Deserved
We are currently living in a golden age for horror movies. There are tons of quality horror movies coming out every year, and an influx of new voices in the genre are driving the trend. Movies like It are now regularly breaking box office records, so it doesn't seem like the horror hype is losing steam anytime soon.
Among all of these amazing films are movies that are not so great. Some of the biggest horror hits of the last few decades have aged fairly poorly by today's standards, and it's difficult to understand why they were so popular at all. Were they just beneficiaries of our insatiable love for horror movies, or were they decent films that suffered from poor execution? Some of the most popular horror movies aren't really that good, but there is a reason they got so much positive attention.
- 1801 VOTESPhoto: Bounty Films
The Human Centipede is almost more of a meme than a movie. This Dutch horror film is actually pretty forgettable once you've seen it, and that's largely because it relies on shock value more than presenting a strong narrative.
The premise of the movie is more disturbing than the actual film itself, and that alone gave it a sort of must-see notoriety. Comedian Daniel Tosh took full advantage of this fact and mercilessly mocked the movie concept on his show Tosh.0. Still, one Human Centipede film inexplicably spawned a full trilogy based more on morbid curiosity than quality storytelling.
- Actors: Ashley C. Williams, Dieter Laser, Akihiro Kitamura, Ashlynn Yennie, Andreas Leupold
- Released: 2009
- Directed by: Tom Six
- 2928 VOTES
Paranormal Activity is one of the greatest box office success stories in movie history. The micro-budget film only cost roughly $15,000 to produce, but it took home a whopping $193 million at the box office. The entire franchise has earned over $400 million to date and is showing no signs of stopping a decade after the original premiered. In June 2019, Paramount announced that a seventh Paranormal Activity film is in development.
Paranormal Activity largely succeeded due to the novelty factor of it's found-footage style. When the original was released in 2009, The Blair Witch Project was the standard-bearer of found-footage horror. Paranormal Activity was supposed to make you feel like it was real, and that things could go horribly wrong at any moment. The big let down of this movie is that nothing much really happens. There's not much in the way of scares, and it mostly just feels like you're watching a home movie rather than a horror flick.
- Actors: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Amber Armstrong, Mark Fredrichs, Ashley Palmer
- Released: 2007
- Directed by: Oren Peli
- Photo: Saw II/Lionsgate
The original Saw is undoubtedly a horror classic, but its sequels don't have the same longevity as the first entry in the series. Some of them may be fun horror movies, but each subsequent entry in the saga takes us further away from what made the original Saw so great. The series began to focus more on the extravagant traps and torture mechanisms than the human drama behind them all, and that's largely why it lost its magic.
While the first Saw is terrifying in a real and grounded way, its sequels are almost cartoonish by comparison. The original almost plays out like a drama at times, with the two leads learning more about each other while they are stuck contemplating their situation. There's also a B plot about the police going on in the background that is reminiscent of the classic thriller Seven, which adds a bitter hope to the whole movie - a hope that wickedly doesn't pay off in the end. This focus on characters and storytelling goes out the window with the sequels, distracting from the fundamental reason most people were fascinated by Saw to begin with.
- Actors: Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Cary Elwes
- Released: 2003
- Directed by: James Wan, Darren Lynn Bousman, David Hackl, Kevin Greutert
- 4763 VOTESPhoto: The Purge/Universal Pictures
At first, The Purge's premise feels like the type of science fiction dystopia that could rival The Hunger Games in popularity. Set in a near-future society where all crime is legal for one night of the year, the film largely eschews its premise for the standard tropes and cliches of a typical home invasion movie.
The unique set-up of the narrative is a pretty solid hook, but the rest of the film plays out exactly how you'd expect any run-of-the-mill slasher to go down. The sequels attempt to take better advantage of the entertaining premise by expanding the world, but each film ultimately leaves you feeling like it should have been better than it was.
- Actors: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Adelaide Kane, Max Burkholder, Edwin Hodge
- Released: 2013
- Directed by: James DeMonaco
- 5776 VOTESPhoto: Hostel/Lionsgate
Eli Roth's story about young travelers being abducted in Europe doesn't have a lot going for it other than volatile action, which was the main selling point when Hostel was released. The film certainly showcases Roth's twisted imagination, and it succeeded at the box office likely due to quality marketing. The film made over $80 million worldwide on a budget of less than $5 million, and it spawned several profitable sequels, as well.
The film was advertised as the kind of movie most people wouldn't be able to sit through unless they had an iron stomach, so there was a sort of morbid curiosity surrounding it. People went into theaters expecting to have their minds blown by the intensity of the narrative, but often left feeling let down that the movie wasn't as extreme as they had been led to believe.
- Actors: Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson, Barbara Nedeljakova, Jana Kaderabkova
- Released: 2005
- Directed by: Eli Roth
- 6733 VOTESPhoto: Resident Evil: Extinction / Sony Pictures Releasing
What could have been a definitive action/horror franchise has turned into something of a disappointment. When the first Resident Evil came out, it seemed likely that Milla Jovovich (who plays Alice) would become a well-known action star. Instead, the series floundered through five additional installments before being put down 14 years later.
Resident Evil seemed like one of those franchises that would never end, no matter how schlocky the movies got. These films focus on action over fear, which meant there was never really much narrative tension after the first installment. No matter what ridiculous scenario Alice ends up in, she always blasts her way out.
- Actors: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Ali Larter
- Released: 2002 - Present
- Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson, Russell Mulcahy, Alexander Witt