Six Horror Movie Tropes That Just. Won't. Die.
November 20, 2017 By Cait Russell
Whether You Love 'em or Hate 'em, Horror Movie Tropes Are Here to Stay.
Photo by: txmx 2, via Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
What makes a good horror movie a good horror movie? Is it the plot, the cast, the special effects, or something else? The same question can be asked of the opposite - what makes a bad horror movie? Or, my personally favorite - "what makes a bad horror movie so awful it's good"? There's a variety of answers to these questions, but one thing that fuels the good, the bad, and the comedic of the Horror Genre is the Horror Movie Tropes that films of every size and budget just can't seem to escape.
But that's not a bad thing, is it? I mean, tropes are the bread and butter of horror flicks, after all, so they can't all be so bad, right?
For better or for worse, here are our favorite Horror Movie Tropes:
- If There's a Girl Screaming & Running in the Opening Credits, She's Undoubtedly Dead Before They Stop Rolling. - Sorry, "Terrified Blonde #1", "Screaming Redhead #1", and "Fearful Brunette #1". Though you were only with us for about 3.5 minutes, your time on screen was iconic, and despite being short-lived, your time on screen set the tone for the entire movie.
And let me just say - girl, you can scream. How none of your neighbors/friends/anyone heard you being chased and brutally murdered in the well-lit, typically-safe cocoon of the suburbs, we'll never know, but we appreciate your contribution to Horror Movie Tropes none the less.
- If The Kids Look a Little Too Innocent, They're Probably The Bad Guys. - Don't let those cherub cheeks fool you. We know what you're up to, creepy little kids. Sure, maybe no one catches you in the act at first, but I mean, how many horrible, brutal murders do you need to serendipitously witness before all of the seemingly intelligent adults realize that you, tiny terror, are in fact the killer?
No really. No one "accidentally" sees like 8 people murdered, and isn't traumatized. Except you, Horror Movie Kid, because you were the murderer all along, you little sociopath.
- If Someone Seems Too Helpful, Be Wary. - Oh, you're running through the woods away from a murderer, and a hiker happens to be there to help you? Or maybe you're trapped somewhere, and a newcomer, claiming to also be a victim, seems to know a little too much? Or perhaps someone helped you by "stopping the murderer/lunatic/monster" while you were unconscious, would-be-victim.
Well, spoiler alert, buddy: Your new BFF is definitely the bad guy. Bet ya didn't see that coming. Stranger Danger, people. It's real - especially in horror movies.
- If You're In a Remote Location Without a Lifeline, You're Basically Screwed. - So, you've decided to go on a camping trip in a remote area with your buddies, or maybe you've decided to house-sit a haunted hotel that's closed for the Winter with your husband and son. Or maybe you're on some adventure in the jungle, or on a once in a lifetime backpacking trip to a part of the world that doesn't know the meaning of "cellphone signal".
No matter where you go on your adventures, if you're in a horror movie and you choose to travel somewhere that cuts off your contact to the outside world, I can pretty much guarantee that someone's gonna die.
- The Monster Lives Inside All of Us. - Ah, the "humanity's the real monster" trope - an oldie, but a goodie. This one's literally been around forever - think about Frankenstein's monster, the poor, misunderstood creature who couldn't catch a break, and is chased by the townspeople. Or movies like the Saw franchise, where victims need to decide whether or not they're going to sacrifice someone else for their own good, and when they do decide to value their own life above someone else's, it backfires, or even Carrie - where a young girl who is abused and bullied relentlessly, and then unleashes her psychic abilities on all of those who have wronged her.
Are the "obvious villains" really villains at all, or it is everyone around them that drove them to become the villain?
If anything, this particular trope has the positive side effect of reminding viewers that you should always be nice to everyone - you never know when the kid you bullied in school will develop psychic powers and terrorize the town, or if the person you deem to be "a monster" is just a giant green dude in need of some good friends.
- (Meta Answer) No Matter How Bad a Horror Movie Is, There's Gonna Be a Sequel. - So, this might not be an in-movie trope, but it's a real life trope that's become synonymous with the Horror Movie genre. No matter how bad a horror movie is - how silly, how over the top, how ridiculous, how outrageous - there's gonna be a sequel, at least.
Will it end with one sequel? No, probably not, and with good reason. Many of the most iconic horror flicks ever made were incredibly low budget, and did very, very well - think The Blair Witch Project and Saw, which cost a pittance to make compared to the hundreds of millions they raked in. And these are just two recent examples.
Horror movies are known for casting little-known actors and actresses, and are often passion projects for writers and directors, making them ripe for the picking by studios. And with low budgets and a following that loves movies that are so bad they're good, it's no surprise that even the worst of the worst have sequels (we're looking at you, "Jack Frost").
What's Your Favorite Horror Movie Cliche? Let Us Know in the Comments Below!