When it comes to horror films, you either love them or hate them. Whether you hide your face in a pillow or watch straight on while shoving your face with popcorn, there is no ignoring the fact that horror films are filled with annoying clichés.
For many years we, as the audience, have watched in fear as the likes of Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers taunted innocent characters to express thrilling plots. However, those exciting plots are filled with overused components that are inducing eye-rolls and predictable responses from viewers. The stereotypical elements making a strong presence in the horror film industry are continuing to fill suspenseful movies as the years go on.
From naïve characters to false scares, horror films can’t seem to part with the aspects that are used to build up emotions as the killers continue wreaking havoc. While they do aid in the development of the suspense with the plot, they are failing to create the same response as audiences become more and more aware of what’s to come. The same irritating, overused elements just can’t seem to be reworked as they still find their way in several successful and unsuccessful horror films.
Whether you’re a horror film fanatic or not, you’ll easily recognize these annoying horror movie clichés we are forced to endure.
15. The Couple That Dies While Getting Naughty
Ah, to be young and in love. It all sounds great, right? Well, it would be appealing if it was taking place in a romantic comedy rather than a horror flick. By now, audiences are quite aware of what the conclusion of a bedroom scene entails in a scary film. It’s one of the oldest clichés in the book, if a couple is engaging in sexy time, then they are going to bite the dust. Guaranteed. It’s an inevitable component in the horror movie industry. Take the 1980 Friday the 13th film for instance. The young Kevin Bacon character assumed he was having he time of his life working at a camp and having one-on-one time with a beautiful girl, but once the deed was completed, so was his life. The once blissful couple were killed following their actions. As years went on and more horror films were released, audiences can’t help but whisper, “Well, they’re going to die” when witnessing two characters getting naughty.
14. The Cell Phone That Won’t Work
With the way our society heavily relies on cell phones, this specific detail is one we know all too well. Because we see it in horror movies all the time. If it’s not the getaway vehicle that fails to function, the cell phone refuses to reach a signal when a character desperately tries to call for help. Granted, the reason that there is no reception is because the attacks tend to take place in the middle of nowhere. But with the location out of the equation, the failure to use the phone is a monotonous thread in horror films that is losing its appeal with every new production. But reception isn’t the only issue. If someone manages to send out a call, the phone suddenly dies before they can get their message across. In case you can’t remember the look of dread that usually befalls these victims as they realize their phone is useless, here is Anna Camp to remind you of it (among other epic things). Of course, this clip is just satire, but we don’t need to prove to you just how often the dead cell phone scene shows up in horror movies, do we?
13. When You Always See The Same Group
While some themes and storylines may be different with each horror film, the characters tend to always mirror one another. Audiences are introduced to characters with varying personalities and appearances. The group consists of the know-it-all, the jokester, the virgin, and the cosmetically enhanced blonde. Each demeanor not only aids in setting up the plot, but it also gives the audience a clear idea of their ultimate fate. As soon as these characters are introduced, the waiting game of their inevitable deaths begin. It’s no secret that the bottle blonde member of the group is one of the first to go. In the 2005 film, House of Wax, Paris Hilton’s character may have put up a good fight against one of the backwoods deranged twins, but in the end, her appeasing looks were no match for the killer. The cliché act of dangling an attractive woman in front of the audience for scandalous moments is a tactic used to shift the focus off the murders that are about to occur. However, it’s only a matter of time before the blondes reach their quota of screen time.
12. The Car That Won’t Start
In the event that a character doesn’t choose to hide in the closet or under the bed from their masked attacker, they choose the sensible act of running to their car. Now, this would seem like a good decision when faced with the task of saving your life. Rather than hiding under the bed, getting out and racing off into the sunset is the desired escape. However, it doesn’t always work out. Not that we would expect it to work seeing as these scenes tend to occur early on in the film. Driving away as fast and as furiously as possible just leads to more problems. If the luck of the characters couldn’t get much worse than experiencing the wrath of a crazy killer, their plan of escape via car fails because the car refuses to start. Obviously. In the meantime, while the character is hopelessly failing to get the car working, the killer shows up and is ready to strike, much like the demon dude from Jeepers Creepers shown above.
11. When The Group Decides To Split Up
For some reason when caught in the crossfires of a deranged killer, the group believes that splitting up is the best solution for survival. Not sure as to why they think that individual fighting would be successful, but it’s a topic that is constantly brought up in horror films. You can’t help but to roll your eyes at the poor decision, because pretty much everyone knows it’s not going to work. If you outnumber the killer, wouldn’t it be wiser to take him on together? Working together to eliminate the cause of their terror could possibly be more successful by coming up with a plan much better than splitting up. Safety in numbers would be the best way to go, but apparently the characters from The Cabin in the Woods didn’t think so. Their plan unsurprisingly backfired with failing to outsmart backwoods zombies and the two manipulative technicians responsible for the underground facility.
10. The Victim Trips While Running Away
I’m not sure what it is about the characters in the horror film industry, but whenever they are presented with the opportunity to escape from their killer, they take off running. Which, in retrospect, seems like a decent decision, considering you want to put enough distance between yourself and your attacker. However, every horror movie character that does so seems to come down with the same condition during those scenes; they all develop two left feet. One minute, they’re racing to safety, and then next thing you know, they fall face first into the ground. This is quite a stressful moment where you viciously yell at your television for the character to get up and keep moving because you know that the killer is going to show up at any moment. Meanwhile, the character is still lying on the ground in pain clearly not realizing that a sprained ankle or scraped knee is the least of their worries. From Friday the 13th to the Freddy Krueger film series, it’s quite obvious that characters clearly don’t understand that if they don’t trip over nothing then they’ll live longer.
9. The Group In The Middle Of Nowhere
Like every other film in the horror genre, they all tell the tale of a similar existence. More often than not, they illustrate a group of friends, mostly of the college age, heading out for a weekend in the woods. But not just any woods, they choose a camping location that is literally in the middle of nowhere. Or in some cases, the group of friends find themselves stranded after they face car troubles on a road trip. Regardless of the reason, they always find themselves in a location miles and miles from civilization. We’ve seen this in just about every typical scary movie, especially in The Hills Have Eyes, which illustrated a family staying in their RV parked in a desolate location in the desert. The outcome is executed in the same manner, despite the array of films that are being produced in the horror movie realm. While the idea of camping or getting lost in the middle of nowhere aids in the development of suspense and terror, the approach is becoming overworked.
8. The Victim That Says “Who’s There?”
We’ve seen it a countless number of times in horror films. The characters hear a noise and then want to locate the area in which it’s coming from. In some instances, it makes sense to find the source of the sound in order to know what you’re up against. Sometimes, it can just be the house settling— but other times, it could be a dangerous intruder. In real life, I’d like to assume that if faced in this specific predicament, we would arm ourselves with a weapon for protection. But what do characters in movies do? They call out to the potential intruder and ask, “Hello? Who’s there?” Do they seriously expect to get a response back? They aren’t going to say anything because they are too busy trying to sneak up on you and kill you. When the babysitter in When A Stranger Calls, receives warning that the call is being made from inside the house she is at, she then starts to question who is there while trying to locate the perp. Trying to call out to your potential attacker is an incredibly annoying trait that horror film characters possess. Not to mention a stupid one.
7. When The Killer Suddenly Appears
As we embark on the two-hour journey of scares and thrills, we’re prepared for the moment when the killer makes his random pop-up appearance. Before anything even hints that he’s coming, we’re ready and waiting. And of course, he makes his appearance in the most cliché way possible. You know, when he suddenly appears behind one of the characters in the reflection of a window or mirror? This is a dead giveaway whenever a character has his or her back turned away from the rest of the room as they seek refuge. You know it’s about to happen. The drastic change in the music’s pitch and the emphasis of the camera angle intensifies the predictable appearance of the attacker. The shock value of this particular tactic tends to dwindle as more horror films continue to use this banal approach. Just put your sound on mute and see how effective the killer is at scaring you. Despite its reputation as an infamous slasher film series, the 1978 thriller Halloween, used this eye-rolling tactic as Michael Myers returned to his home town to seek out more victims on a cold Halloween night. And there he is, eerie as ever, behind his favorite victim. Ugh.
6. The Useless Police Officers
In the world of horror films, the lack of authority is greatly portrayed. If, for whatever reason, a character is actually able to send out a call for help to a nearby police station without the phone dying or losing signal, the end result is always the same. The officer shows up to the desolate house or cabin only to be killed by the attacker himself. Which obviously, does nothing to help the characters struggling to get away from the deranged killer stalking them. The law enforcement officials are depicted as incompetent as they fail to notice the threat they are walking into. In some cases, the authority doesn’t acknowledge that there even is a killer raising havoc and leaving a slew of innocent victims dead. Just look at these poor unsuspecting officers from Last Shift. If only they knew…
5. The Game Of Hide-N-Seek
It never fails that when a character ultimately comes in close proximity with the killer, they quickly take off running in the opposite direction. Seems fair enough considering that our human reaction to scary things is to either fight or flee. Which in just about every horror movie, fleeing is more appealing. Apparently, not many want to take on Freddy Krueger and think that hiding is their best chance at survival. Which in turn begins a game of hide-n-seek. Characters either find themselves locked in a bathroom, or crawl under a bed in hopes that their terrified sobs don’t give way to their location. Wrong. The hunter always finds its prey. Choosing to trap yourself in a small room or space without an alternative escape route appears to be the desired option for the characters, and it almost never turns out well for the one who’s hiding. The suspenseful 2008 thriller, Prom Night, illustrated a high school girl running from her psychopathic stalker and takes cover under a hotel bed. However, it didn’t turn out to be the best solution for this predictable move. Especially when she comes face-to-face with the body of her best friend.
4. All The False Scares
Leading up to the initial kill of the movie can take some time. In order to increase the scare factor leading up to the real attacks, horror films create several fake scares to build the anticipation. In some cases, it’s a random cat jumping out to gain screams from both a character and the audience. Other films use the approach of a friend unintentionally sneaking up behind them during a momentary freak-out. These moments have the heart rates of the audiences increasing as the tension begins to add up. While some horror films have no problem showcasing a kill early on in the film, others wait till later on, which in turn allows the audience to know that it’s nothing more than a false scare. Recall how many times we were led to jump out of our seats for nothing in the American horror franchise Scream.
3. The Victim Pleading With The Killer
When faced against a psycho killer, the goal is to escape and stay alive. Duh. Whether that means fighting back or running to safety, the desired outcome almost never results. Because it’s a horror movie, we get it. However, it doesn’t mean the victim has to resort to pleading with their killer every single time. No matter how many times a character begs for their life, the attacker won’t stop. This should be obvious. It’s quite annoying to listen to characters plead with the killer to spare them. While we’ve seen these annoying pleas numerous times in classic horror films, it has been shown in the suspenseful Scream series, as victims beg to be spared. When are characters going to learn that the drama and tears will not sway the motivation of the attackers to kill?
2. The Killer That Never Dies
Do you ever notice that despite how many times the killer is supposedly killed, they show up at the end of the movie alive and kicking? Think about it, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers somehow overcome death in order to continue their killing sprees in a next installment to their franchises. At some point, they just have to die and stay dead. How many times can Freddy Kruger roam around before he is buried six feet under once and for all? While it makes sense to continue on a series if it’s experiencing success, having the killers survive death just to collect more change in the pockets is a cheap way to go about things. This type of treatment hasn’t just occurred in the classic horror films, it has made appearances in recent movies as well. At the end of the 2009 My Bloody Valentine film, it showcased the split-personality killer walking away unnoticed by rescue teams and the main characters for he is presumed to be dead. Whether or not horror film killers are immortal or have nine lives, what’s dead should stay dead.
1. Firearms Being Non-Existent
Fighting for your life against a monster, psycho killer, or demonic spirit quickly turns any object within reach into a weapon. Over the years we’ve seen characters use a wide range of items as tools to fight off those looking to impose harm. But one thing that stands out is the lack of guns present. Think about it. When in doubt, a knife was grabbed and used for either protection or as the ultimate murder weapon. Guns rarely make an appearance and when they do, they fail to work or serve their purpose. So either the horror universe lacks the 2nd Amendment, or using knives creates an overall thrill that guns apparently lack when facing off against a demented killer. When watching horror films, we can’t help but be annoyed with the fact that knives seem to be the go-to weapon. Films such Psycho consisted of a knife as the murder weapon in its infamous shower scene and even modern horror flicks relied on a knife rather than a gun. Just look at Drew here playing with the knives. Who casually plays with knives like that?
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