The slasher genre has a long and honorable tradition of escalating gore. What seems shocking and scary for one generation of slasher horror fans can seem tame and even funny to the next generation. According to Freddie Prinze Jr., something similar happened to his horror series I Know What You Did Last Summer. In an interview with Collider, the actor explained that the rise of a new type of “ultra-gory” slasher horror exemplified by James Wan’s Saw franchise makes his own films seem almost comedic in comparison.
“To me, all stories should be retooled and no legendary type fiction should ever age with its audience. It should constantly try to inspire the next generation, so that it doesn’t die with its audience. I love it. I heard they’re making an I Know What You Did Last Summer TV series. I don’t know how they’re gonna make it scary because James Wan, who I love, made those movies not scary anymore because he did Saw and changed the whole game up. Now, my movie is a comedy, but whatever, it’s cool.”
While fans of the I Know What You Did Last Summer franchise might disagree with this assessment of the films as comedy, there is no doubt the gore factor in the slasher genre was drastically dialed up since the Saw franchise.
I Know What You Did Last Summer relied on atmospheric suspense to create a feeling of dread among audiences as they wondered about the identity of the serial killer. On the other hand, the Saw movies make no effort to hide the identity of the Jigsaw Killer, and the meat (pun intended) of the story deals with how the actual murders are committed, through a series of brutal traps and riddles that dismember individual victims in creatively horrifying ways.
Of course, each new installment in both horror franchises has shaken up the established formula in some way or another. Sometimes fans are onboard with the changes, while other times the changes are decried as being unworthy of the original movies. As far as Freddie Prinze Jr. is concerned, this cyclic nature of rebooting popular franchises is simply how Hollywood works.
“I think it’s normal, but I have a different perspective on the business because my pops was in it before me and I’ve known people in it since I was a kid. I remember when they first announced that She’s All That was getting redone, I was hyped for it because my buddy Mark [Waters] is the director. I’ve worked with him on two other movies. He gave me my first break, so to speak. And I love Rachael [Leigh Cook] so much that I’ve taken all of the years that were supposed to age her and I’ve placed them on my hair and beard and these wrinkles, so that she can remain young forever. I love both of them, but people started getting angry. I was like, “It’s okay. We’re not the first. We’re good, you guys.”
This news originated at Collider.