Who doesn’t love a good horror movie? We love the thrill of being frightened and we intentionally seek out the experience of being disturbed by gory slasher films. Though we’re repulsed by documentaries and authentic footage of violent and horrifying events, we choose to seek out horror films with the same (sometimes worse and more graphic) imagery. Psychologists theorize that we love horror movies so much because it puts a fictional rift between these terrifying events and our lives; they give us a sense of control and safety in a world where horrific events are actually possible. This is actually the reason why certain horror movies with more realistic premises, like The Last House On the Left, are more terrifying, more criticized, and less watched. Because the premise is more plausible and possible in our personal lives, the fictional rift is smaller, which increases our personal discomfort with the film.
That’s why some of the more outlandish, supernatural, and paranormal horror movies are the most popular. Movies like The Conjuring, Sinister, and The Exorcist, which are about ghostly hauntings and possessions, are popular because there’s little scientific evidence that horrific events like these could occur in real life. We rely on their outlandish premises and formulaic performances to leave the theater satisfied and entertained.
That said, the formulaic performances have gotten a little too predictable. At some point, the fictional rift is defined only by the ridiculously stupid decisions that characters make in horror movies. Even if the rest of the plot is plausible and the killer is believable, we know that at least we would not make the fatally dumb decisions that the lead characters in horror films make. Here are fifteen of the stupidest decisions ever made in horror movies.
15. House At The End Of The Street: “I Don’t Think I Need To Bring Extra Batteries.”
Most of us that saw this movie really only cared about it because Jennifer Lawrence was in it towards the beginning of her career. While it was a decent horror movie, we could all see the “twist ending” from a mile and a half away. It took forever to reach the climax and, when it did, we all just wanted to yell at Jennifer because damn it, she should know better than this.
Sadly, she is not the only horror movie victim that forgot to pack extra batteries. You’d think it wouldn’t be such a hard thing to remember, but apparently it is. All that stands between her and getting out of that basement alive is a functioning flashlight to make it up the stairs and out the door; instead, she’s just going to cry and keep banging on the flashlight, hoping that will somehow help (guess what? It won’t).
14. Scream: “I’ll Escape Through The Doggy Door!”
It’s still hilarious that someone thought this death up. With all the tools one could use to battle a killer with only a melee weapon in a garage, this chick decides to try to escape through a doggy door. This is the essence of poor decision making.
It’s baffling how many times victims choose just to run away, especially when they have every excuse to stand and fight. In several ’90s slasher films, from Scream to I Know What You Did Last Summer, victims are frequently given ample opportunities to fight. Tatum (the character who was done in by a garage door) even tripped her killer and had him awkwardly fumbling on his back like a turtle turned upside down; one swift kick to the head might have stopped the serial killings and made her a local hero. Instead, she went out in the lamest way possible- hanging in the garage like a tennis ball used to keep from hitting your fender against the back wall.
13. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D: “I’m Too Impatient To Get Away Safely.”
First off, this movie did not need to be remade just for the 3D format and it was doomed to fail from the start.
Second of all, these teenagers had to have a little more sense! As they are fleeing from the murderer, they only have to wait for the electric gate to open before they can speed off down the highway to safety and report this killer to the cops. But this dummy thinks he can just ram the gate and they’ll escape faster (meaning, he won’t have to wait the ten seconds it would take for the gate to open, in which time the killer would still not have caught up to them)! So they run into the gate and, lo and behold, it does nothing but trash the van. Now they’re stuck inside the gate, even though it is still slowly swinging open, with the chainsaw-carrying killer jogging up behind them. Never mind the fact that they could just get out of the van and run down the road; no, they’ll keep trying to get the engine to turn over.
12. When A Stranger Calls: “This Stalker Is Calling Me Again! I Guess I Should Answer.”
JUST DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE!!! How many times do we see movies that are based on killers frequently calling their victims with terrorizing messages before actually coming and killing them? Ever wonder what would happen if the victim just stopped answering the phone? They’d probably keep calling, but if the victim just kept neglecting to answer, they’d either chose a different course of attack or probably pick a different victim that would be more willing to play along with their preferred mode of serial murder! When a creepy stalker insists on calling you and won’t stop calling you, just stop answering. Unplug the phone, if you have to. Since most killers in horror movies are serial killers, anyway, if you refuse to match their M.O. (modus operandi, that is), they probably won’t kill you!
It’s also rather convenient that their calls are coming through, but the victim somehow either doesn’t think to call the police or the calls are strangely dropped…
11. The Strangers: “It Looks Like They’re Leaving Us Alone. Glad We Didn’t Do Anything Rash, Like Call The Police!”
At some point, you have to know that you’re in a horror movie. Take The Strangers, for example: you arrive at a secluded vacation home late at night, you’re in a silly argument with your new spouse, a suspicious person is knocking on your door asking for random people (does it look like Tamara’s home?), and people have straight up invaded your home. The husband chases the invaders off the property, at one point in the film (or so he thinks), and the couple believes they are finally safe from these odd, masked, scary hoodlums. WHY WOULD THEY ASSUME THEY ARE SAFE? JUST LEAVE. CALL THE POLICE. PUT OUT A BEAR TRAP. DO SOMETHING! Of course, they’re not safe! They’re lack of action was their mortal downfall, not the bored, murderous neighbors. If they’d just done more than call the guy that owned the house they were staying at (like CALL THE POLICE), they might’ve still had a decent honeymoon.
10. Prom Night: “My Murderous Stalker Is Still On The Loose; I’ll Just Go Home, Sleep, And Hope The Cops Catch Him By Morning.”
Leave it to teenagers to make the worst decisions in horror movies. Perhaps one of the greatest mistakes made by anyone in any horror movie is assuming that the police will be able to get their jobs done with ease. Newsflash: police are only human, too, and it is indeed possible that they will fail you. In this teen’s case, the police failed her so hard that it cost her the lives of her parents, brother, boyfriend, and best friends. After her stalker high school teacher murdered her family (for love!), he was arrested. When he broke out of prison on her prom night, the cops should have immediately locked her down and ensured she was safe; instead, they let her romp around a labyrinthine hotel at prom! It’s hard to say who makes worse decisions in this movie- the cops, the teens, or the murderous stalker who should’ve picked a smarter target.
9. The Skeleton Key: “I’ll hide In The Closet; She’ll Never Find Me Here!”
Why is it that, when we people are being chased by a murderer or are in fear for their lives, they choose to hide in places like closets, basements, bathrooms, and attics; places that have no external exits and are essentially traps? In all fairness, most of the premise of The Skeleton Key consists of Kate Hudson’s character walking into a trap, but that’s besides the point. At one point, she grabs a phone and hides in a closet to call her friend and ask for help. First of all, does she think that the thin closet door will muffle her voice (because that’s an idiotic expectation; the old, voodoo woman can certainly hear her chatting with her BFF)? And second of all, does she think she won’t be discovered in the closet? Why not try to hide in a clothing hamper or under a bathroom cabinet? Kate Hudson is small enough, she could fit, and the old bat wouldn’t think to look there!
8. Friday The 13th Part 2: “Crazy Stuff Is Happening, But We Should Still Totally Have Intercourse.”
If there’s one thing Jason hates more than negligent camp counselors, it’s camp counselors that get laid.
This one is a rule that should just generally be accepted: if there are suspicious happenings and there are any reasons at all to suspect that a killer might be on the loose, now is probably not the best time to have sex. Keep it in your pants until daylight; that’s generally a safer time to have sex. Better yet, reserve sexy time for the safety of your home. Don’t get daring and try to have sex in the haunted tool shed that sits in the haunted forest next to the haunted lake. Can’t you take a hint? Having sex where someone was brutally murdered decades ago is probably going to offend the ghost of said murdered person. Also, you’re being paid to be a camp counselor: don’t you have kids you should be taking care of?
7. Oculus: “I Could Just Destroy This Haunted Object, But I Want People To Understand Why First.”
It would be understandable if you felt you had to justify killing a possessed person before you did it; it would even be understandable if you had to justify killing a demonic animal! But destroying a haunted object? Who cares? Just destroy it! No one is going to come around and interrogate you on why you destroyed a mirror. No one will imprison you for shattering an elaborately framed piece of glass.
In Oculus, this haunted mirror is responsible for the deaths of these kid’s parents as well as forty-three other deaths. The main character has every opportunity to destroy this mirror; instead, she tries to catch the mirror doing something spooky on tape. What she doesn’t realize (like a dummy) is that she’s giving the mirror one last shot at killing her or her brother! If you ever encounter an object you’re certain is haunted, either cease interaction with it or destroy it. Keeping it around will probably not fare well for you.
6. The Ring: “OOOH A Haunted Videotape! Wanna Watch It?”
While we’re on the topic of haunted objects, it should be noted that haunted chests should never be opened, haunted houses should never be entered, haunted music boxes should never be wound up, haunted dolls should never be taken home, and haunted tapes should NEVER BE WATCHED. You’d think this is fairly common sense, but apparently there are enough people out there that are too curious for their own good. If you come into contact with a video tape that is haunted, do yourself and everyone else that might mistake the tape for their copy of Jurassic Park a solid and destroy it. It’s not like destroying it would be some monumental chore (it’s not like you have to throw it into the fiery pits of Mount Doom); it’s a VHS tape. Just ruin the tape- break it, pull the black tape out of the VHS, and throw it away. Tada! Haunting over, no more problem!
5. Case 39: “Demons Are Breaking Into My Bedroom. Let’s Hide Under The Bed.”
It was ridiculous enough in Taken when Maggie Grace hid under her bed when her kidnappers definitely knew she was hiding in her room. Hiding under your bed when a demon knows you’re hiding in your room? Do you really think that’s an effective strategy? You truly believe that the demon might not find you under your Crate & Barrel bed? Come on, Renee Zellwegger, you’re smarter than that. You should just know that you’re screwed. Might as well put on pajamas and get comfy under the covers, at this point.
It’s not like we expected a lot out of the movie, anyways; the plot was fairly predictable, it was released when Bradley Cooper was still rising in film fame, had really bad special effects, and starred chick flick fave Renee. Plus, it weirdly enough kind of advocated for child abuse and that’s never a good thing.
4. The Babadook: “My Kid Isn’t Being Haunted, He’s Just Poorly Behaved.”
Oh, we forgot to mention: never read a horrible haunted book either. Shouldn’t have had to single that one out, but here we are. The Babadook is actually lauded as one of the best horror movies of the past five years, and it is very well made; the audience frequently questions throughout the whole movie if there truly is a monster, if the mother is the monster, the absent father is somehow the monster, or if the looming threat of insanity is the monster. We won’t spoil it, but it’s worth a watch.
One of the biggest problems in this movie occurs early on, though. The mother recognizes that her son, just like all young children, has some disciplinary issues and likes to play pretend. When he tells her of the Babadook monster that invades his room at night, she doesn’t believe him and thinks he is just being childish. If she just listened to her son, she might’ve avoided weeks of mental torment, anxiety and sleepless nights!
3. Amityville Horror: “I Know This House Is Haunted, But I’m Sure It’ll Be Fine.”
No. It won’t be fine. Do you want to know why? Because it’s haunted. Really haunted.
Amityville Horror has been made and remade after the true story of a haunted house that a family moved into and suffered in. It’s frequently acknowledged as one of the scariest “true” horror stories out there; even the cast and crew were on edge when filming the 2005 remake. Since it’s based on true events, it’s harder to pretend real people wouldn’t make this mistake, but it’s a dumb mistake all the same. If you’re searching for a home and your real estate agent tells you a haunted landmark is located nearby, that’s okay. If they tell you the well behind your home might be haunted, maybe invest in pouring concrete in the well. If they tell you a family was brutally butchered inside the home, maybe just keep looking at different houses. Something else is sure to come along.
2. Cabin In The Woods: “We Should Split Up.”
Perhaps using Cabin in the Woods isn’t the best example, since the movie is half horror and half a spoof of the genre, but it so hilariously and pointedly follows the horror movie formula that it’s perfect. The only easier example would be Scooby Doo: “Let’s split up, gang!”
Sure, the argument for splitting up made in the film is a valid one (“if we split up, we’ll cover more ground faster when barricading entrances to the house”), but it’s certainly not the logical one! No matter what game you’re playing, whether it’s Call of Duty or trivia, it’s easier to take down your opponents when they’re alone; it’s the same way in horror movies! There is strength in numbers. Next time you’re being pursued by redneck zombie- ghouls with a blood lust, make sure you stay in a tight knit group, and maybe listen to the wise advice of the pot-head.
1. Every Horror Movie Ever: “I Need A Better Cell Phone Plan.”
From Buried and Friday the 13th (the remake) and When a Stranger Calls to The Mist and The Hills Have Eyes and Saw V, cell phone reception is everyone’s downfall. What, does everyone in horror movies have T-Mobile? How does everyone always have a terrible signal? Almost every modern horror movie could be ended with a quick cell phone call or even a text, so the simple solution for writers is that the character either has no signal or the battery is dead. In reality, the simple truth is that you can get a signal pretty much everywhere; maybe it won’t be the best signal, but you should at least be able to complete a call and the police should be able to get a run on your location. If you’re ever in a horrific situation with someone and they say they can’t call for help because they “don’t have a signal,” they’re probably the killer and you should probably get out of there.