Features and Columns · Lists · Movies

10 Best Late Franchise Horror Movie Gems

Because sometimes fourth, or fifth, or sixth, or seventh time’s the charm.
Horror Lists Late Franchise Gems
By  · Published on October 15th, 2021

October is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “31 days of horror.” Don’t bother looking it up; it’s true. Most people take that to mean highlighting one horror movie a day, but here at FSR, we’ve taken that up a spooky notch or nine by celebrating each day with a top ten list. This article about the best late franchise horror sequels is part of our ongoing series 31 Days of Horror Lists.

The idea that sequels always result in diminishing returns is widely assumed, but not entirely accurate. Sure, it’s true sometimes and it’s easy to point to notable examples. But it hardly accounts for all of the exceptions to this rule. There are countless instances where a film can surprise you, whether it’s The Godfather Part II or a wonderfully inventive and incredibly violent tenth entry in a horror movie franchise. We can all agree that both of these examples are basically the same thing.

Typically, sequels and threequels get a lot of love. And indeed, there are plenty of impressive trilogies. But the fourth film is where things can really get weird. Naturally, this is where we want to start. The films on this list cover a wide range of entries in their respective franchises and perfectly dispute the notion that decline is inevitable. So read on for a list of the best late franchise horror sequels — fourth film or later — as chosen by Brad Gullickson, Chris Coffel, Jacob Trussell, Rob Hunter, Mary Beth McAndrews, Meg Shields, and myself.

10. Final Destination 5 (2011)


After a disappointing fourth entry, the final (at least so far) Final Destination film was a welcome revitalization of what fans love about the series. It sticks to the tried and true formula of opening with a showstopping catastrophe, in this case, a monumental bridge collapse. With some grisly, albeit CGI-heavy kills, the inciting event is a horrific Rube Goldberg machine that exemplifies exactly why these films are so fun in the first place. The film also serves as a well-engineered twist in franchise lore and even if you see the ending coming, you still have to applaud that the film pulls it off. Plus, what the earlier entries did for logging trucks and tanning salons, this one does for LASIK. (Anna Swanson)

9. Alien vs. Predator (2004)


Okay, fine. Alien vs. Predator has no business being PG-13. Its Antarctica location flies in the face of previously established mythology. And it bears no resemblance to the damnably brilliant Dark Horse Comics series that initially smashed these two franchises together. Just put your disappointment and frustrations in the corner for a second. Watch the movie as it exists, not as what you want it to be. Reconnect with your inner kiddie. Paul W.S. Anderson crafts a mischievously thrilling sci-fi adventure film, peppered with goofy gags and weird alien tech. Sanaa Lathan is a badass, and her climactic Predator team-up achieves everything it should if you roll with the movie’s wild left-field swings. (Brad Gullickson)

8. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)

Marked Ones

Folk horror conjures pastoral images of white people massacring themselves in the name of the Lord, but that’s a myopic view of what folk horror can encompass. For instance, in an urban setting, the folk horror aesthetic can be used to contrast the realities of modern life with the old world traditions that the cities inherited from the countryside as families moved to urban areas throughout the early 20th century. The Marked Ones might exist within the world of the Paranormal Activity franchise, but on its own, this offshoot is a clever piece of urban folk horror that expands on the series’ mythos by injecting new cultural perspectives that allow the film to overcome the limitations that typically accompany an entry this late in the franchise.

Director Christopher Landon is able to do this by smartly resisting making The Marked Ones a rehash of the series’ award-winning formula used in the first four films. Instead, it delivers a late franchise horror gem by focusing on characters far removed from the suburban creature comforts of the other films to show the coven is hungry for more than just white privilege. It doesn’t matter if you are from Malibu or Oxnard, if your momma sold your soul to the Devil, these witches want you. (Jacob Trussell)

7. Jaws: The Revenge (1987)


What do you get when you mix Michael Caine, Lorraine Gary, and a pissed-off great white shark? Jaws: The Revenge, the fourth and final installment in the Jaws franchise. This late franchise horror sequel completely ignores the events of Jaws 3-D (as it should) and instead directly follows the events of Jaws 2. Here, Ellen Brody (Gary), wife of the late Chief Martin Brody, becomes paranoid that a shark is hellbent on killing her family. And that suspicion is confirmed when a great white appears in the warm waters of the Bahamas, where she and her family now reside.

She also has a psychic connection with the shark, so she can feel when the creature is about to kill one of her family members. Yes, that’s right, she has a psychic link with the shark who wants to kill her entire family. Plus, Caine plays a pilot named Hoagie with cute blonde curls. It really does have everything. Plus, it has a strange history with its ending, where the original ending just involved the shark bleeding out from its injuries, instead of inexplicably exploding. However, that ending was only released during the film’s theatrical run in the United States. (Mary Beth McAndrews)

6. Jason X (2001)

Jason X

It is a truth universally acknowledged by this jury (and the James Bond franchise) that setting the umpteenth installment of your big dumb franchise beyond the stars is very, very funny. Go big or go home, as they say. And what could be bigger than the cold, uncaring vastness of outer space? A self-parodying horror comedy set in a laser tag course — uh, I mean a space station, the delightfully named Jason X is way more charming and imaginative than its goofy-ass premise has any right to be.

We hit the ground running with David Cronenberg (yep) kicking the door down to seize the hockey mask’d hulk on the grounds that the creature’s inability to stay dead is, uh, interesting. When invariably shit (a metal beam) goes sideways (through Cronenberg’s chest), Jason (Kane Hodder) and his executioner/handler Rowan (Lexa Doig) wind up cryogenically frozen. Four hundred years later, the pair are rescued by an expedition of horny/tech-savvy grad students. Carnage ensues after both Rowan and Jason are thawed out in outttttter spaaaaace. (Meg Shields)

Next Page

Pages: 1 2

Related Topics:

Anna Swanson is a Senior Contributor who hails from Toronto. She can usually be found at the nearest rep screening of a Brian De Palma film.