From the jerk-character dying, to adults being useless, some of the best (and worst) horror movies utilize the classic tropes. Films like Scream and Cabin in the Woods (both regarded as some of the best horror movies of all time) brilliantly built their premise on these tropes. These horror clichés are likely to keep creeping up in movies for years to come, and genre fans would expect nothing less.
The Best Clichés Found In Horror Movies
Snap, Crackle, And Pop
If you’ve been watching modern possession movies then chances are you’ve seen a character twist and bend in impossible ways. As if the characters having a demonic voice with solid black eyes wasn’t enough to show viewers that they are indeed possessed, they’re going to make sure we know by having the haunted individual bend and contort (with the all-too-common “bones breaking” sound effect). But on the bright side, these characters are amazing at Twister. A great example of this can be found in the trailer for the 2016 film, Ouija: Origin of Evil.
Don’t Worry, I Have A Flashlight
Creepy noises in the house? A random door just slammed shut? No worries, just grab the nearest flashlight and go investigate. But whatever you do, don’t turn on the lights, grab an actual weapon, or call 9-1-1. Besides, most likely the phone would have a dead line anyways.
Bigger, Faster, Stronger, And They Teleport
First you see them, now you don’t. First they’re in one place, now they’re behind you. No matter how fast you run, the baddie can walk or limp faster. Oh, and they can teleport. You can find these classic clichés in numerous horror movies featuring a psychotic killer. Perhaps the most hilarious example is in Friday the 13th Part VIII (because seven wasn’t enough): Jason Takes Manhattan; at one point our hockey-masked friend is chasing the would-be victim up a ladder, but when they get to the top Jason is magically there.
Don’t Stop For Directions
Apparently a fun pastime for couples and groups of friends is to take road-trips to remote locations. Well of course they’re going to get lost and ask the creepiest person they can find for directions. And wouldn’t you know it — it was a trap all along. And now they’re in the woods being stalked by a group of crazies. Which is another classic horror-trope, don’t go into the woods. And while on the subject for places not to go, don’t go into the basement. Nothing good ever came out of a basement.
Don’t Take A Shortcut
Don’t ever take a shortcut if you end up stuck in traffic or if you’re short on time. A perfect example of this gem can be found in Wrong Turn. Which also features another great cliché found in horror flicks: backwoods people are always going to try to kill you.
Listen To Advice
Where would-be victims have no issues listening to the locals for directions, they have major issues in taking sound advice. These clichés can be found in movies like House of 1000 Corpses, with familiar lines like, “I wouldn’t go there if I were you kids.” Eh, what do they know? And sometimes the advice comes from a friend: “We shouldn’t go there. I heard killer-X is there.” But of course they will go there, and they will die.
Don’t Be A Jerk And Don’t Be A Tough Guy
If you’re a male in horror movies and you’re tough, then you will most likely die first. And if you’re a jerk, you’re probably going to die in the middle of the movie. And the audience loves cheering when the jerk dies. It seems that if you’re self-centered then you deserve to have your limbs hacked off by a machete-wielding maniac.
Adults Are Worthless
If you’re being stalked by a supernatural entity or by a killer, don’t bother telling the police or parents because they’re worthless. They won’t believe you. In fact, you will probably be accused of being on drugs. Sadly, you and your teenage friends are on your own. But you’ll be able to say “I told you so” by the end of the movie. Except for those that have been killed because the adults wouldn’t listen. A great example of this can be found in horror movies like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Disturbia.
Don’t Have Fun
If horror movies feature people who like to go to parties, attend bonfires, enjoy drinking or adult relations, then they’re going to die. They don’t even have to have sexual relations in order to get killed off; getting topless or going skinny-dipping will also do the trick. This leads to perhaps the biggest horror trope of them all: the final girl.
The Final Girl
Tested and proven for decades, the majority of horror movies feature one surviving woman. Most likely she never liked to party or have sexual relations. And she also needs to go through hell in order to discover that she had the strength in her all along that she never realized she had before (she was chased by someone with a chainsaw or pitchfork). And any man that tries to help her along the way on this journey of self-discovery is going to die. The hilarious horror-comedy The Final Girls does a great job at paying tribute to this cliché.
The New York Times describes perhaps the most famous final girl from one of the best horror movies of all time: Halloween.
“In John Carpenter’s much-copied tale, the final girl goes from innocent babysitter to tenacious protector in 90 minutes. She uses a knitting needle, a coat hanger and a knife against the maniac man-child Michael Myers. Though Laurie is one of horror’s beloved final girls, she is saved by a man (Donald Pleasence). Still, she serves a crucial function, which is to be a ‘ray of hope that it’s not all nihilism and death, that somebody can make it through,’ Ms. Ponder [horror movie-blogger] said.”
They’re Not Dead Yet, Stop Celebrating
So a baddie has killed all of your friends and chased you throughout your house, and somehow you have managed to push him down a flight of stairs or knock him out. So what should you do? Leave the house! In fact, run. But nope, most people in horror movies use this time to take a breather or to even celebrate, only to find out that the killer isn’t dead.
Everyone’s Dead But I’m Just Fine
Survivors are apparently sociopaths in horror movies. The sole survivor has watched all of their friends die in gruesome ways, but that won’t stop them from immediately carrying on. Often these survivors can be found smiling at the end of a movie. Or worse yet, the film will flash-forward to a few months in the future to show that they have a perfectly normal life again. Most people aren’t even over a bad breakup in a few months, and these people have moved on from watching their entire family or friends get butchered to death.
These Are One Of The Reasons We Love Horror Movies
This reporter has practically been a lifelong fan of horror movies. The genre has a niche audience of fandom. Of course there are the movies that transcend the genre that seemingly everyone enjoys, The Shining comes to mind, but diehard fans enjoy watching tons of B-horror flicks for numerous reasons. And one of those reasons is because they provide the entertaining clichés we have grown to love.
If a person is being chased by a killer and they don’t run up the stairs, we would be disappointed. If there’s not a creepy basement in a ghost movie, then what’s the point? Casual fans of horror movies may not ever understand why these clichés are still around, but the diehard fans will always appreciate them.
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[Featured Image by Magnet Releasing]