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The best horror movie prequels

A friendly disclaimer: As this is a prequel film roundup, we’ll be discussing some cinematic details that could spoil certain elements of other movies in each of the following franchises. 

Have you ever wondered how the annual Purge got started in the first place? Have you pondered the question of when the cunning Predator humanoid first emerged in the world? While horror cinema is filled with enough sequels to pad a franchise out for many years, there are fewer sagas that dare to provide a prequel entry, but for those that do, the results are often wildly entertaining. Whether it’s ghosts and demons you’re into or cannibalistic sociopaths, we’ve rounded up all the best horror movie prequels you can stream for Halloween. 

And while origins may not always be important, when it’s a Paranormal Activity prequel, there’s a good chance you’ll learn a thing or two as to how the onscreen players could have avoided a life laden with supernatural troubles.

Need more horror movies in your life? Check out our monthly roundups of the best horror movies on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Shudder.

Amityville II: The Possession (1982)

Amityville II: The Possession
James Olson, Burt Young, Rutanya Alda
Directed by
Damiano Damiani
Watch on HBO Max

The Amityville Horror is one of the more recognizable haunted house flicks of the ‘70s, with the original film starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder as George and Kathy Lutz, newlyweds who purchase a haunted Long Island home and flee the residence after only a month of living there. Based on the nonfiction book by Jay Anson (who the Lutz’s collaborated with), it’s still a mystery to this day as to whether or not these supernatural events actually occurred, but that didn’t stop Hollywood from producing a series of cinematic follow-ups.

The first in this lineup is 1982’s Amityville II: The Possession, a prequel of sorts to the Brolin/Kidder film starring James Olson, Burt Young, and Jack Magner, amongst others. Centered around the Montelli family’s paranormal experiences at 112 Ocean Avenue, Anthony, Dolores, and their four children are actually based on the DeFeo clan, the real-life residents of the Amityville home who lived at the property before the Lutz family. And as we know from the headlines and original film, it was Ronald DeFeo Jr. who would go on to murder his entire family because he heard voices telling him to do so. 

Amityville 2: The Possession Official Trailer #1 - Burt Young Movie (1982) HD

Prometheus (2012)

Science Fiction, Adventure, Mystery
Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Logan Marshall-Green
Directed by
Ridley Scott
Watch on Hulu

While we would prefer to remain tight-lipped as to why Prometheus is technically a prequel, we’re hoping you read our spoilers disclaimer at the beginning of this article, because we have to give some information away. An epic sci-fi-horror film, Prometheus is directed by Ridley Scott and stars Naomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, and Michael Fassbender, two investigative scientists and an android, along with other crew members, who pilot a spaceship based on mysterious coordinates left behind by primitive Earth inhabitants.

Hoping to unearth the origins of human life, what the crew ends up discovering is far more terrifying than anyone could have fathomed. OK, this movie is over 10 years old now, so we don’t feel too bad in proclaiming that Prometheus is actually meant to serve as a prequel to director Ridley Scott’s Alien. In fact, before it was officially Prometheus, the movie was intended to be a fifth entry in the Alien series proper.

Prometheus Extended International Trailer (2012) - Ridley Scott Alien Movie

Annabelle: Creation (2017)

Annabelle: Creation
Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Lulu Wilson
Directed by
David F. Sandberg
Watch on HBO Max
A cinematic spinoff to The Conjuring series, Annabelle: Creation is the prequel to the 2014 film Annabelle, another Conjuring tie-in flick. Released in 2017, Creation follows the story of a group of orphaned girls and their caregiving nun, Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman). Taken in by the doll-making Mullins family after their orphanage closes, the children are warned to stay out of one particular bedroom in the home, quarters that once belonged to the Mullins’ deceased daughter, Annabelle, who died tragically 12 years ago. But in pure horror fashion, the warning is not heeded, leading one of the orphans to unleash the evil living inside a recognizably creepy porcelain doll. It’s the third act of Creation that truly links the film to the first Annabelle spinoff, but as a standalone feature, Annabelle: Creation is an incredible bit of haunted house cinema.
ANNABELLE: CREATION - Official Trailer

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

Paranormal Activity 3
Horror, Mystery
Katie Featherston, Sprague Grayden, Lauren Bittner
Directed by
Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Watch on Amazon
In Paranormal Activity 2, a familial link is established between Katie and Kristi, two sisters who, initially unbeknownst to their family, share a secret paranormal past. It’s this creepy origin story that gets the full feature-length treatment in Paranormal Activity 3, starring Chloe Csengery and Jessica Tyler Brown as child versions of Katie and Kristi. Set in 1988, the two girls are living with their mother (Lauren Bittner) and her boyfriend (Chris Smith) when a series of supernatural events start taking place around the home. As the phenomena grow in intensity, the family is forced to investigate and eventually flee, which leads to another series of events that ties the film to the first and second Paranormal Activity flicks. Featuring some pretty effective scares and some off-the-wall storytelling, Paranormal Activity 3 is a good stab at a “found footage” prequel.
Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) Official Trailer - Found Footage Horror Movie HD

The First Purge (2018)

The First Purge
Horror, Action, Thriller
Marisa Tomei, Patch Darragh, Kristen Solis
Directed by
Gerard McMurray
Watch on Fubo
The Purge presented a semi-dystopian America where, one day a year, for an overnight period of 12 hours, crime of all kinds, including murder, become legal. But in the first film, the annual Purge event has been occurring for years. It’s the 2018 film The First Purge (the fourth entry in The Purge series proper) that sheds light on the origins of the horrific event. The story follows the New Founding Fathers of America, a radical political sect that creates the experimental Purge as an isolated sociological experiment in response to a major uptick in national crime. But it’s only a matter of time before the sanctioned madness implodes and spreads across the country. A bloody origin tale for the gory Purge saga, The First Purge is a solid entry in the franchise and a solid prequel, too.
The First Purge – Official Trailer [HD]

Prey (2022)

Thriller, Action, Science Fiction
Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Michelle Thrush
Directed by
Dan Trachtenberg
Watch on Hulu
Hulu subscribers have been turning out in droves for Prey, the pulse-pounding prequel to the prolific Predator franchise that takes place 300 years in the past. Following a Comanche tribe led by Naru (Amber Midthunder), the fierce warrior is forced to do battle with an invisible otherworldly foe when members of her tribe start turning up dead. A riveting blend of horror, action, and sci-fi, Prey is a powerful first look at the terrifying humanoid that would go on to target humanity for countless centuries. As far as homages go, Prey isn’t too far off when it comes to honoring the original film, although any trace elements of campiness are all but gone in this ages-ago origin tale. Prey takes itself pretty seriously, and you should, too.
Prey | Official Trailer | Hulu

Final Destination 5 (2011)

Final Destination 5
Horror, Mystery
Nicholas D'Agosto, Emma Bell, Miles Fisher
Directed by
Steven Quale
Watch on Starz

As far as Final Destination films go, the fifth entry in the franchise is fairly par for the course. Starring Nicholas D’ Agosto as Sam, aboard a charter bus, on his way to a corporate get-together, the man has a vision that a suspension bridge is going to collapse. Acting fast, Sam is able to save many of his peers, but in true Final Destination fashion, Death returns to take its called-upon victims in the order they were supposed to die. Without giving anything away, Final Destination 5 includes one heck of a twist that manages to designate the fifth entry as a prequel to the other four films. And while it’s not much more than your run-of-the-mill FD adventure, the fifth outing ditches some of the B-movie vibes fans may have grown accustomed to in favor of a slightly more serious narrative with some truly inventive deaths.

Final Destination 5 Official Trailer #1 - (2011) HD

Editors' Recommendations

Movie images and data from:
Michael Bizzaco

Michael Bizzaco has been writing about and working with consumer tech for well over a decade, writing about everything from A/V components and smart home devices to encryption software, cloud backup platforms, search engine tools, and more. He has written for Digital Trends for over three years, covering entertainment content, A/V, and smart home devices.

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