They say that originality is dead, and given the number of rebranded, soft-rebooted movie sequels, it’s easy to see why so many feel that way. And the horror genre hasn’t been immune to this. We all recall the 2000’s when there was a wave of remakes of slasher classics. Leatherface, Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, and Freddy Krueger all got the remake treatment, and for the most part, audiences didn’t receive them kindly.
But here we find ourselves in a new era, that of the “requel”. The latest Scream movie (which will be featured in this discussion) put it best:
“You can’t just reboot a franchise from scratch anymore. The fans won’t stand for it….You need to build something new. But not too new…Not quite a reboot, not quite a sequel.”
Thus, we have the age of requels; movies that usually retcon every previous sequel and don’t even bother coming up with a new title. So we’ll be analyzing and comparing four such examples: Halloween (2018), Candyman (2021), Scream (2022), and Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) to see which one of them pulled off the requel best!
When it was announced that this franchise was getting the requel treatment, it was largely welcome news given that it was in time for the original’s 40th anniversary, and Jamie Lee Curtis was returning to the franchise once again. Given how unceremoniously her character exited the series in Halloween: Resurrection, fans were anxious to right that wrong.
Not everything works for it, but the movie does a great job of portraying a post-traumatic Laurie Strode and Jamie Lee Curtis absolutely kicks ass. Granted, the newer characters aren’t as interesting as the legacy ones, but the return of John Carpenter to compose new music and a genuinely amazing third act elevates this above many others.
With all of these, there’s a definite leaning towards either sequel or remake, and Halloween goes more for the former. It boasts amazing production design that just oozes Halloween imagery in a way that the original probably couldn’t afford to do. And of course it was successful and popular enough to launch a trilogy, as well as inspire these other entries to be made.
Where Halloween felt more like a direct sequel with returning characters, Candyman’s 2021 iteration felt more like a straight up remake with the original existing as a sort of mythos. In the end however, this movie is very much a mixed bag.
The original movie was heavy on social themes, and this one certainly updates that for a modern setting. However, towards the third act, it gets a little lost in its own ideas and becomes something a mess. It never gets outright preachy or heavy-handed the way that Black Christmas (2019) did. But it does get confused as to what it’s trying to do.
To its credit, the kill scenes are absolutely amazing and tense, far more brutal than what came before. So it definitely gets it right in the slasher department. And while we don’t really get any legacy characters other than in passing mentions, it does feel like what a Candyman movie in the 2020s would look like.
One major thing that sets this requel apart is that it’s the only one which doesn’t retcon any previous sequels. The events of Scream 2 through 4 still loom over the story now and are very much part of the continuity. Given this franchises’s propensity for dissecting horror in pure meta fashion, they were able to analyze the requel through their own lense.
The result is a movie that gets away with all the tropes because it’s simultaneously criticizing them in hilarious self-aware fashion. And to its credit, it finds ways to subvert those very tropes that it discusses. For example, having the opening kill not really be a kill because Jenna Ortega’s character survived.
Its final act even delves into the idea of toxic fandom driving this requel craze. As previously mentioned, remakes were all the rage from 2003-2010, but fans wanted something new, while also wanting it to connect to the originals, and thus we have the current craze.
Honestly, the only thing that holds this movie back has nothing to do with the movie at all. It’s critical of the idea of requels being used to launch even more sequels (much like Halloween starting a new trilogy). But it sort of lost its spark once it was announced that we’re getting a sixth movie because of the success of this one.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)
If you want a masterclass in how to completely botch a legacy character’s return, look no further than this most recent entry. Clearly someone watched Halloween (2018) and thought to do something similar with this franchise’s original lead Sally.
Right from the start, this didn’t quite have the same effect as bringing Jamie Lee Curtis back and here’s why. Curtis was a larger part of the Halloween franchise, already having appeared in four movies, not to mention she’s also an A-list movie star. Sally on the other hand only appeared in that original movie (plus a brief cameo later on), and due to Marilyn Burns tragic passing in 2014, the role had to be recast.
Then, the movie makes a big deal about Sally’s return, but ultimately wastes her by only having her show up to do something in the final 20 minutes, and getting killed off pretty quickly, so it was all for naught. Couple that with annoying, uninteresting characters and you get a movie that divides the internet for days!
To its credit, it does up the ante when it comes to kills and gore. Had it not been a requel and just been an original slasher, it might have played out much better.
Crafting a New Story/Characters
Scream did it best with its new characters that really take center stage. Candyman does it second best with an interesting protagonist who goes down a rabbit hole we all might be tempted to. Halloween gets an honorable mention with new characters that are okay but not great (honestly the better new characters come in Halloween Kills). Texas Chainsaw Massacre swings and misses.
Respecting Legacy Characters
Halloween takes the obvious gold here with its badass Sarah Connor portrayal of Laurie Strode. It both makes sense in universe, and it provides an amazing final act where she and Michael Myers have their showdown. Scream makes the deliberate choice to focus more on the newer characters, but it never disrespects the legacy ones and when they’re used, they’re used very effectively. And as previously mentioned Texas Chainsaw Massacre absolutely wastes Sally in a manner that is reprehensible.
Justifying Its Need to Exist
Candyman does the most with trying to update its themes and ideas for a modern audience. And in many ways, while the original was a classic, there are certainly aspects of its social commentary that it doesn’t fully realize. Beyond that, Scream gives a much needed meta analysis of this whole requel phenomena that only that franchise could give. Halloween is extremely well made, but to be honest it doesn’t really add or do anything that we haven’t seen before. And of course, the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre just felt like a soulless cash grab.
1st Place – Scream (2022)
2nd Place – Candyman (2021)
3rd Place – Halloween (2018)
4th Place – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)
Which requel is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!