Who knew you could get this much mileage out of a ghost named Toby?
Nine years ago this week, Oren Peli started production on "Paranormal Activity," which was made for $27, a box of Band-Aids, and three plates of ham sandwiches. Truly independent in every way, the film premiered a year later at ScreamFest, and then… didn't come out for two more years. While "Paranormal Activity" is a remarkable success story, it's also not an instant one. Peli had to struggle to get his film from that first screening to a major theatrical release, and there were plenty of fine-tuning that had to be done to get it there. "Paranormal" has many godfathers, and by the time the film came out in 2009, it had been through many hands. The result, though, has been one of the biggest horror franchises in recent memory, and it laid the foundation for Jason Blum's entire horror empire.
Not many horror franchises get to go out on their own terms. Hell, not many horror franchises should even exist. It's almost counter-intuitive. Great horror films, like great comedies, rely in part on shock, a primal and completely involuntary reflex reaction, and the more times you go back to the well, the more you risk killing all chance of the thing working. I can barely express how much I hate watching them slowly strangle all the joy out of a character or a premise over the course of six or seven or eight films. Some series have managed to do it in two or three films. It's all dependent on how clever and inventive the people following up the original are, whether it's the same filmmakers or different ones. How many truly great horror sequels are there? Check out our massive HitFix Horror Poll of 100 different horror professionals and see how many sequels made their list of the 100 greatest horror films of all time.