Platinum Dunes horror movies are both beloved and reviled in horror circles, so how do the production company’s many genre offerings rank in terms of quality from the A Nightmare on Elm Street remake to A Quiet Place? In the two decades that the production company has spent as a major player in the world of cinematic horror, Platinum Dunes has been both often hated and occasionally well-liked by horror fans.
Established by action cinema legend Michael Bay, Platinum Dunes began life in 2001 as a more high-octane and glossier production company than was typically found in the grimy, low-budget world of horror. The gimmick of early Platinum Dunes offerings was remaking much-loved genre classics, an approach that led the company’s output to be immediately reviled by horror purists.
As fun as contrarianism can be, though, in this instance the purists had a point. Platinum Dunes’ glossy reimaginings of classics such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hitcher, and The Amityville Horror did little to improve on the original and a lot to annoy horror fans, while their early original offerings such as Horsemen and The Unborn failed to inspire much more confidence. However, on occasion, the company has stumbled across a solid hit, as proven by A Quiet Place and the gradually improving Purge series. Here’s how every Platinum Dunes horror title ranks from worst to best.
Released in 2008 starring Parent Trap dad Dennis Quaid, Horsemen was one of a slew of lesser efforts that riffed on Saw’s “self-righteous serial killer sets up lethal, twisted traps” formula. Unlike many unfairly maligned “torture porn” movies of the time such as Hostel and WΔZ, this Se7en rip-off had little originality or spark of its own, making it an unfortunate miss.
While it’s always a welcome delight to see Game of Thrones star Sean Bean crop up in genre fare, this 2007 remake of the grimy ’80s horror of the same name brought nothing new to the table. Replacing the creepy, desolate atmosphere of 1986’s original with the over-edited aesthetic Platinum Dunes was infamous for, this thin retread was missing Rutger Hauer’s terrifying take on the title role, and wasted the charms of One Tree Hill star Sophia Bush on its predictable plot.
Released in 2014, Ouija wins some minor points for being an original idea and not another remake or reimagining. That said, that’s about all this weak ghost story has going for it, with the story of a haunted board game being too silly for scares and too slow and dull for (even unintentional) solid laughs.
There’s nothing actively awful about 2003’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. It’s fast-paced, occasionally tense, and even features that great “camera swoops through an open wound” shot. That said, there’s also no reason for a glossy remake of Tobe Hooper’s iconic original to exist when what made the 1974 horror so brutally effective was its tangibly sweaty, cheap, grim atmosphere. It’s a classic for a reason, and has an authentically grimy feel that can’t be replicated, so this Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake was always bound to feel toothless.
Much like the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s intense atmosphere couldn’t be recreated, offering more backstory for the franchise villains couldn’t make them scarier than the original movie’s thinly-sketched horrors. This 2006 prequel is a little stronger than the remake, but it’s still an unnecessary addition to the overall Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise canon.
One of the most controversial offerings from Platinum Dunes, 2010’s A Nightmare On Elm Street is spared a spot at the bottom of this list thanks to a talented cast that includes Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Aaron Yoo, and the chilling Jackie Earl Haley in the role of Freddy Krueger. However, a tasteless last-minute twist and a tragic lack of scares ensure this one remains near the bottom of the pile.
2005’s The Amityville Horror benefits from Ryan Reynolds doing his best Jack Torrance impression as the patriarch who turns murderous when he moves into the titular abode. The remake boasted jump scares and early ’00s over-editing abound, but the original movie wasn’t much scarier. Therefore, this remains one of the more middle-of-the-road remakes from Platinum Dunes.
A fresh take on the possession sub-genre, 2009’s The Unborn loses points for lacking scares, but gains a higher ranking overall thanks to its originality. Gary Oldman’s campy performance, a Josef Mengele-based backstory, and a haunting dybbuk all amount to less than the sum of their parts, but The Unborn is nonetheless a fun movie.
The first installment in the satirical, politically-driven The Purge franchise is ironically the weakest, despite an impressive cast that includes Lena Headey and Ethan Hawke. The Purge has an ingenious premise, but it’s only really explored in the later sequels. In contrast, the first film contains the bulk of its action in a gated suburban community. There are still some effective sequences and clever lines, but ultimately this one is a wasted opportunity.
The second sequel of The Purge franchise, The Purge: Election Year was a little too on-the-nose to succeed as admirably as Anarchy and The First Purge, but it’s nonetheless a pacy, solid thriller. Essentially a gorier redo of Escape from New York, this one is stronger than its predecessor, but not the best that the series has to offer.
Directed by The Haunting of Bly Manor helmer Mike Flanagan, the 1960s-set Oujia: Origin of Evil is a rare horror sequel that improves on the original movie by leaps and bounds. A prequel that brings the action back by a few decades, this story of two young sisters beset by an evil spirit in a haunted board game is a marked improvement on its predecessor, but still one of modern horror icon Flanagan’s less essential movies.
The first sequel in The Purge franchise, Anarchy saw action star Frank Grillo and a sprawling cast extending the focus of the titular night outside of the suburbs and into the poorer parts of America. This shift in focus brought a more satirical edge, more action, and characters who are easier to root for, resulting in one of the franchise’s strongest outings to date. The Purge: Anarchy wasn’t just a win for Platinum Dunes, but for the series as a whole.
A Friday the 13th remake from Platinum Dunes sounded like terrible news when it was first announced after a spate of similar efforts from the production company, but lo and behold, 2009’s simply-titled redo proved Jason Voorhees’ best onscreen effort since the early ’90s. Dropping the self-aware comedy of Jason X for brutally efficient slasher stylings, this remake may have made some odd decisions, such as a survivalist bunker-dwelling Jason, but there’s no denying it’s a fun, fast-paced slasher, particularly during the superb opening 25 minutes.
Finally marrying the satirical potential inherent in the premise to real-life events, The First Purge took the already promising formula of the franchise and made explicit the implied political message. An unsparing satire of the ruling class profiting off eradicating poor communities, this action-horror movie is also a tightly-written and frequently tense, scary delight.
2018’s blockbuster post-apocalyptic action horror A Quiet Place may have the simplest premise on this list, but it’s also the strongest. Following a family struggling to live in complete silence after most of the Earth’s inhabitants are wiped out by sound sensitive monsters, this intense and grim survival horror is truly gripping, genuinely scary, and surprisingly poignant at times. Easily the strongest cinematic offering from the divisive Platinum Dunes, A Quiet Place earned itself a sequel in A Quiet Place Part 2, which is slated for a 2021 release.