The ancient adage that a sequel to a beloved film can never recapture its predecessor's spirit has been disproved countless times, and is by now a pretty dated concept based in the early days of sequeldom. The Godfather Part II, The Empire Strikes Back, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day blew audiences away with their ability to build upon the foundation of their first films. But that is not to say crafting a great sequel is an easy task, and a genre that seems to have a particularly hard time with that is horror.
The things that strike fear into the hearts of victims/viewers are totally unique and difficult to replicate without repeating yourself, or worse, explaining away the horror with lengthy nonsensical backstories.
Studios have a habit of milking horror classics into absurdly long franchises, no matter how many scares are lost with each cinematic regurgitation. Other times, filmmakers make a genuine attempt to create something scary enough to hold a candle to the original, and it just doesn't work out.
Even though some horror franchises can pull off a surprise return to form, there are many that seem doomed to contain only one great movie: the original.
With that in mind, here are ten such awesome horror movies with disappointing sequels.
10. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
When The Blair Witch Project hit screens in 1999, its reputation for raw, authentic frights preceded it. The story of three student filmmakers going missing in the Maryland woods while investigating a local folk legend seemed believable, and Artisan’s marketing team went full-throttle with this, creating a website that documented the supposedly real missing persons case, with the unknown actors sharing their characters' names.
All of this built towards a genuinely scary film that is a certified horror classic, and launched the found-footage subgenre into the mainstream.
This success would be hard to repeat, and audiences would catch on quickly if the same stunt was tried again. That didn’t stop Artisan rushing a sequel out the door the following year, against the wishes of the original’s writer/director team Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez.
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 was panned for its poor acting, cheap production values, and unoriginality. Adam Wingard’s Blair Witch (2016) was a definite improvement, sticking closer to the original and writing off Book of Shadows as a film within a film, but it then fell into the category of a less scary re-tread of the original movie. It seems you can’t make the Blair Witch lightning strike twice.