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The Dangers of Sequel Peddling

Anthony Chatfield
In the space of no more than 30 seconds, even a good film can be tarnished with the sequel peddling of Hollywood executives who are greedy to see how an audience would react to yet another film in their overplayed franchises.
I don't go to watch a lot of horror films. The joke is old by now. Once you've seen one horror film skewering popular conventions of realistic violence, you've seen them all, and there's no purpose in wasting yet another $9 on more of them. However, 28 Days Later was the best modern horror film I've seen, and so the sequel and its premise looked enticing to me.
It didn't disappoint either. Though the second half of the film devolved into a bit of Hollywood thriller-esque, run and gun adrenaline junkie-ism, the film as a whole was quite entertaining and the intensity was welcome. What makes the 28 Days films good is that they don't presuppose some ridiculous premise that is impossible to suspend disbelief over.
Instead of zombies attacking, a genre I actually rather enjoy because of the thousands of different scenarios you can explore with it, undead creatures hell-bent on eating your brain, the films assume there is a man-made disease that reverts human cognition to animalistic rage turning human beings into blood thirsty cannibals.
The result is truly horrifying in the way only a film that you think 'might' be feasible can be. Few horror movies are able to tap human fear in such a manner and I enjoy them for that very ability. However, the one thing horror films all do that I've long since grown tired of and honestly don't believe is necessary anymore is the thirty-second sequel pandering ending they'll often ruin a film with.
You've seen it a hundred times and it's the only reason they could make 10 Friday the 13th films. Every time you think Jason is finally, frozen, dismembered, sent to hell, and dead - oh dear god let him be gone - dead, he raises a hand or the rubble rolls around. It's as simple as that. There's no need for explanation or context, just a quick shot of a hint of his virility and the film series continues.
What this does of course is kill any credibility the film has. Granted, most people don't put much stock in the film itself. It's mindless entertainment with a gratuitous plot and premise that doesn't need to make sense for people to enjoy. But, when I see a film like 28 Weeks Later that actually tries and does a decent job of transcending typical slasher film antics, I expect the ending to be inclusive, or at least open-ended to a degree of purpose.
The first film did just that. After a thoroughly terrifying premise in which the filmmaker actually managed to craft a ghost town out of London and send his protagonists across a wasteland of Rage-infected humanity to a military base and eventually a possible rescue by the river, the film merely ends. There are no infected running rampant through the trees or a helicopter smoking as it flies away. The film just ended. The glimmer of hope that a film like this can offer at the end is all that is left and it worked magnificently.
28 Weeks Later had that ending and then ruined it in the span of 30 seconds of unneeded footage. It took only one scene to ruin everything the film did and I'm absolutely disgusted that they gave in so easily. I don't care if they make a new film in two years (which they will now) or that the entire world is likely infected. It's the writers' prerogative. However, the purpose of the film was a sort of inevitability corner-stoned by hope and human love. People are surely willing to believe that there is some sort of hope at the end of the tunnel. And in this film there quite literally was not hope beyond the tunnel.
No self-respecting novelist would end their book with the deaths of millions, merely so they could have another book in which they talked about those deaths. I don't want to attack this film too thoroughly.
It had one of the best introductions and emotional attachments of any film I've seen this year (by far beyond the sequels Hollywood has thrown at me thus far) and it's the only film other than Hot Fuzz and Pan's Labyrinth that I've seen this year and been happy with. That's a whole lot of American films failing me.
I just want to make sure to voice my opinion on the matter of commercializing the ending of a well-made film for the sake of making more money later. It's irresponsible and disrespectful to the movie goers. If I watch a thoroughly engrossing film, I want to be rocked back to reality by the light of the sun when I exit the theater, not the petty sequel peddling of a film executive before the credits even roll.