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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

3 Secrets to ACTUALLY Making a Horror Crossover Film NOT Crappy

I recently heard news that Blumhouse is interested in crossing over two of their arguably most successful properties, INSIDIOUS and SINISTER. Which made me go...huh. Not a "questioning" "huh?", though. However, warning signs started "pew, pew-ing" around my head like little laser blasters from the First Order troops, and I'm poor Finn. Because, as you know, I did write about the inevitable cheesiness and crap that is a horror crossover. They just don't work. Too gimmicky. And it's a cheap grab to appeal to the imaginations of a lot of horror fanboys out there.

Say What You Want About How "Cool" It Was to See Freddy Krueger Take on Jason Voorhees....


But FREDDY VS. JASON, as guilty of a pleasure it was for me, didn't even come close to the charm of the actual brands themselves. A shameless orgy. And ultimately just a dope fiend's idea of mashing the two together and calling it a recipe.

The same thing could've been said about the whole ALIEN VS. PREDATOR scenario. And to make it even worse: SADAKO VS. KAYAKO. Seriously, the "Grudge" versus the "Ring"? Although I believe that film didn't take the whole mash-up two beasts competing model at all, but somehow it seemed to fall flat still for one important reason --

I've Discovered That in Order for ANY Horror Crossover to Work Well, It Has to Follow These Three Important Steps:


  • Firstly, MAKE SURE THE TWO BRANDS DON'T "FIGHT"
Please. This isn't about watching WWE or something. We're not in it to see a match. We still want a story. This arguably might even be the reason to see Bughuul and the Further in the same scenes for a mega-crossover that'll work.

We've seen it in some TV shows, too. Why not successful horror brands like this? And as much as I loved the Japanese horror genre with THE RING and THE GRUDGE and other such properties, Blumhouse has been kicking it out of the park with their insanely moody and ambient brand of terror.
  • Secondly, DON'T MAKE THE TWO BRANDS "TEAM UP" EITHER!
I'm being very serious about this.... And think about it. Why would two horror icons or concepts ever think "teaming up" would be a good idea? The very theory of a demon, or an evil plane of existence, or anything like that is about simply being. And the being is the terror all by itself.

In other words, why would Freddy Krueger even care about Jason and his stupid machete? Evil monsters like that wouldn't bother thinking twice about some other entity in the same situation. Evil's fixated on just one thing. Period. Their focus would solely be on terror -- attacking the innocent. And they wouldn't need to do it together, so to speak. This disconnects the entire man-made structure of a mash-up, which allows a story to have that organic mixture of randomness.

Oh, you have Bughuul; and he exists on his own. But here's the FURTHER, too. And the Further's doing its thing as well. We have to figure out how to tackle both SEPARATELY.

What do we do? Makes for a great premise that isn't tied down to a specific box, or "fighting ring."
  • And Thirdly.... You Don't Even Have to Make the Two Brands AWARE OF EACH OTHER
Not only are they not locking horns in some "epic fight," and not only are they not technically fighting the same fight, but they're so disconnected that they don't even interact with each other at all. That's crucial. It's all about respect. Consider that.

We have two recognizable brands here: Freddy Krueger and Jason, the Predator and the alien, Grudge kid and the Ring girl. Bughuul and scary makeup lady from the Further. If you want to give the brands their due in a film, like any film would do, LET THEM BE WHAT THEY ARE SEPARATELY. Don't make them interact as that will lessen what they are on their own merits; before you know it, you're making them into a duo, or a combination that just won't work.

In other words, they don't need to have a scene together at all. I don't mean, however, they can't have a presence in the same scene -- just not a visual presence TOGETHER in the scene where you see both of them at the same time.

Long story short.... This keeps the story CENTRAL, which in this case needs to be the focus for such a big mash-up. It's not about what these two brands will do if you throw them in a story together. It's about the story; and the story happens to have these two brands in it, which is cool all by itself.

So I'm Hoping Blumhouse Is Taking Notes: You Want Your SINISTER/INSIDIOUS MASH-UP MOVIE?


I think that's how you're going to do it. There needs to be a central plot, something that technically binds both brands into the same situation -- but the sub-plots do have their place, focusing on each brand as well. Get the right balance and employ a pulp fiction model, and you're golden.

Then, you know, you can even inject some central plotting of certain recognizable characters like, oh, the CONJURING cast for a big three-way mash-up crossover! Did I say that out loud?

Hopefully Blumhouse was listening....
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