Years ago, filmmakers like John Carpenter, Wes Craven, or George A. Romero were referred to as “horror auteurs” until the term, essentially, vanished from the zeitgeist as the genre seemed to suffer a creative slump. However, with a few particular new horror movies being some of the strongest we have ever seen, in my opinion, I think that we can safely say that the age of the “horror auteur” is back, and one of the leading examples is Jordan Peele.
Outside of Peele's own original work - including the Oscar-winning Get Out, 2019’s Us, and his upcoming alien invasion flick, Nope - one thing that has impressed me most about Peele is how he has helped breathe new life into older favorites of the genre, like by co-writing and producing the 2021 Candyman sequel with director Nia DaCosta and filling Rod Serling’s shoes as executive producer and narrator of Paramount+’s The Twilight Zone reboot. Given the widely positive responses to each, I couldn’t help but wonder what other classic horror movie franchises could benefit from his magic touch, starting with one that is especially reflective of his talent for scary and satirical entertainment.
Tales From The Hood
What makes 1995’s Tales from the Hood one of the most essential anthology horror movies is the clever, nuanced social commentary in each scary segment that is just as timely (if not more so) today. However, I personally believe its two straight-to-video sequels from 2018 and 2020 are not nearly as clever, nuanced, or scary, even with original co-writers Rusty Cundieff and Darin Scott at the helm and Spike Lee returning to executive produce.
Perhaps getting Jordan Peele (a master in the clever, the nuanced, and the scary) involved to help pen, produce, or even direct a new batch of segments could be what the franchise needs to reclaim its stature in Black horror cinema.
Speaking of horror movies noted for their social commentary, The Purge franchise was created as a bold meditation on America’s obsession with violence by being set in a future that allows the most violent behavior, without consequence, one night a year.
Despite its innovative concept and the urgency of its message, I do not believe that any of the five films in the series so far have truly reached their full potential, particularly in their narrative execution and how rarely they broaden the topic of legalization beyond executions. I would like to see how Jordan Peele might attack this material and what unique ideas he could add to the franchise’s already inventive roots in a sixth installment.
Friday The 13th
A franchise that truly deserves another installment to bring its quantity to a fitting 13 is the Friday the 13 movies, which is also one of the most ripped off slasher series ever (despite the 1980 original being a Halloween rip-off, admittedly).
Because the formula of a masked killer stalking young, promiscuous campers has been beaten to death, I think Jason Voorhees’ return to the big screen (if not for an ongoing legal dispute over the property) could use a real boost in creativity. I think Jordan Peele could be the man to do it for his rejection of well-known genre tropes and, as he told the Wall Street Journal, the fact that he does not find Jason very scary, but might know how to make him scarier.
When the Wall Street Journal asked Jordan Peele whom he would include in his Avengers-style line-up of horror movie villains, he listed common must-haves like Freddy Krueger and Chucky, but also mentioned “one of the silver balls from Phantasm.”
I would agree that that is one of the freakiest and most iconic horror movie props of all time, but hate to say that I do not love very much more about Don Coscarelli’s bizarre cult favorite or its sequels, personally. However, a reboot with a fresh dose of Peele’s visual style and complex narrative talent sounds like a fun idea.
28 Days Later…
One of the most unique and realistic zombie movies, 28 Days Later… is a film that, in my opinion, has yet to spawn a sequel that matches the quality of the original (a poignant humanist parable) instead of being more concerned about the virus theme like 28 Weeks Later was.
Well, in the midst of Covid-19, now might actually be the best time to resurrect the franchise with the long-awaited 28 Months Later, which could also be Jordan Peele’s first zombie movie if he were involved. To be clear, I would not necessarily want to see him take over from director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland completely, but the idea of Peele collaborating with those two on such a project is an exhilarating thought on its own, is it not?
Another franchise that has not quite lived up to its more unique and thought-provoking original (again, just in my opinion) is the Saw movies. James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell’s feature-length debut was a bold commentary on the value of life wrapped up in an engrossing mystery thriller, whereas the sequels became more and more about how much deadlier and more deranged the centerpiece traps could get. I think it is time the series went back to basics, and Jordan Peele’s unique use of mystery in his storytelling could be the key.
Speaking of franchises that became increasingly concerned with inventive death scenes, let’s talk about the Final Destination movies for a second. I think that the five (and counting) films in this series about youths struggling to outrun death itself are a set of wonderfully twisted guilty pleasures, but also believe that they have the potential to be (and say) more with their intriguing main concept. If anybody can bring stronger storytelling and symbolic themes to a film that is mainly defined by what it does visually, it has to be Jordan Peele.
On the flipside, the Paranormal Activity movies were initially praised for having a simple plot with effective scares until becoming bogged down by an increasingly confusing, non-linear timeline. Thus, it was refreshing to hear that the seventh installment, Next of Kin, would be a standalone, but neither fans nor critics were very impressed by that one, either. Looks like this series of found footage thrillers is yet another that Jordan Peele’s gifts for suspense and storytelling could help save.
On second thought, maybe I just want to see Jordan Peele make a found footage movie. That does not necessarily mean he would have to make a Paranormal Activity film. Either way, I am and always will be excited for whatever he has in store next.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.