Published on February 14, 2022, at 7:50 p.m.
by Jennafer Bowman.
“Halloween,” the masked slasher film that debuted Jamie Lee Curtis’ and Kyle Richards’ careers, has been rebooted not once, but twice. The original Halloween film (1987) has seven sequels to it, a flopped two-movie reboot (2007) and most recently, another reboot movie series (2018).
“Halloween” (2018) earned $255 million at the box office. The film was met with high praises from some of the biggest horror movie enthusiasts and earned the green light for at least two more films. “Halloween Kills” (2021) was delayed due to COVID-19, but that didn’t stop the film from slashing the box offices with $131 million grossed worldwide. However, the movie was met with harsh criticism and even sparked a petition to remove a scene showing Michael Myers murdering firefighters.
Bloody Disgusting, a popular horror media website, gave “Halloween Kills” a three out of five-star rating, while “Halloween” (2018) received four out of five stars. According to the review, one of the main problems in “Halloween Kills” is the plot becomes “so caught up in the past and ripping open old wounds, though, that it forgets to move the narrative forward.”
“Scream,” another beloved horror movie franchise, released its fourth sequel in the ghost face killer series in January 2022. The movie took the No. 1 spot its opening weekend, dethroning Marvel’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home” by raking in $84 million.
However, much like its fellow masked murderer franchises, the film was met with harsh criticism. The Film Magazine, another popular movie review site, said the film “tied itself up in knots trying to decipher if it’s an homage to itself or to other films.”
Horror fans have to wonder, why do movie studios keep making sequels when history shows they tarnish a beloved horror franchise’s brand? Should they start from scratch or continue a movie’s legacy?
In simple terms, the answer we’re looking for is brand awareness. This is the measure of how memorable and recognizable a brand is to its target audience. Movie studios are counting on our love for main characters such as Sidney Prescott (“Scream”) and Laurie Strode (“Halloween”) to influence us to buy that movie ticket.
Take “Star Wars,” for example. The multibillion-dollar franchise has multiple sequels, prequels and spinoffs featuring old fan favorites and introducing new ones. The series has made most of its profits because of brand awareness. Producers of sequels to popular movies don’t need to rethink their target audiences or use popular influencers to promote their new movies; they already have their target audience, and they know how loyal they are.
Fans of the original “Halloween” keep coming back to see Michael Myers and Laurie Strode’s continuous battle. They get lured in with hopes of innovative horror, but instead they’re trapped in a blood bath with only a whisper of nostalgia attached.
Horror movie franchises use fans’ loyalty to familiarity to keep them coming back for more. However, the iconic masked killers are only slashing one thing: our hopes for an actually good sequel.