Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Horror Movies: The Rule Of Three
When it comes to horror movie franchises it seems that studios have the theory that more films equals more dollars. But that's not really the case.
Like all genres, the horror community is spurned by the fans. What fans want to see is the ultimate driving force behind horror movie franchises. But when does the franchise go from being top notch to ending up as a direct to DVD?
I'd like to call it The Rule Of Three.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY did exceptionally well at the box office because there was nothing like it available at the time. Same applied to SAW. They were both unique concepts that played with the mind of the audiences, creating panic and fear from the comfort of a local cinema. Studio executives looked at it as a money making machine and began spitting out sequels every year, thus lessening the quality of the film, the scares and diminishing the audience capacity. Did they learn nothing from FRIDAY THE 13TH?
This is where The Rule Of Three comes into play. Imagine you're a horror writer/director/producer. You've just discovered an amazing story and have been green lighted by the studio to turn into a feature film. Your horror movie is suddenly all anyone is talking about and all that talk is generating the big bucks. Now it's time to decide if you're going to cash in on a sequel or not.
My theory is if a horror movie makes a large enough profit and fans are demanding a second film, then go for it. The demand is high and people can't wait to see what happens next. This is the part that most franchises fault with. Your sequel has to measure up to the same standards as the original movie. If a sequel can stand on it's own and still be considered a fantastic film, like PSYCHO II, then you have a success. If not, then it's time to end the series there.
If you manage to score a sequel that can stand on it's own, and it generates enough interest, money and discussion, then it's time to look at a possibility of doing another film. This time, the third film has to out do the two that came before it while still being able to stand independently and keeping in touch with the already established storyline.
Let's look at the I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER series. The first film came out in 1997 and did reasonably well. The first sequel, I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, carried on in 1998 and kept some of the original cast (Freddie Prinze Jr., Jennifer Love Hewitt and Muse Watson as The Fisherman). But I bet you didn't know that in 2006 there was an attempt to revive the series with I'LL ALWAYS KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER. Now, I don't have an issue with seeing The Fisherman return and when I first heard about the film, I was a little excited. It had almost been eight years since Julie and Ray had survived so revisiting them would have been an interesting concept. Sadly, no one else thought like I did. Rather then bringing back Freddie, Jennifer and Muse, I'LL ALWAYS KNOW took a different route, using the story of The Fisherman fueled by revenge as nothing more then an urban legend. Not surprisingly, this film went straight to video and didn't round out the series the way a true sequel would have. The same thing can be said about the URBAN LEGEND series. URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT was a decent enough sequel because it stood on it's own but still had a slight tie back to the original film. URBAN LEGENDS: BLOODY MARY, like I'LL ALWAYS KNOW, disregarded everything that came before it and consequently didn't make as much as what the first two did. Is it a good film on its own? Not really. So rather then being called part of the series, I'LL ALWAYS KNOW and URBAN LEGENDS: BLOODY MARY are simply just bad movies.
I'm not the only horror fan that sticks by this formula. When I asked my Twitter followers "When should horror movie franchises call it quits? When is enough, enough?" 90% of people who responded answered with "After part three." One person even went as far to say "By the end of the third film most of the interest has gone. We only go back for parts 4, 5, 6....12, 13 because we're hooked on the killer. Someone like Jason or Freddy broke the horror mold and true fans will follow them regardless of how bad the movie is."
So what's your opinion? Do you believe in the Horror Movie Rule Of Three? When should horror movie franchises call it quits?