Your guide to the ultimate horror movie clichés
While a creepy, antique doll can have demonic intentions or a run-down mansion to house ruthless spirits, some specific recurring tropes commonly pop up as films are added to the ever-growing genre. There’s comfort knowing what’s to come in a horror movie, so this blog was created to highlight these clichés and shamelessly embrace our love for them. So, while you’re adding some new horror movie action figures to your online shopping cart, why not read about some creep-tastic patterns?
1) The car doesn’t start
There’s nothing worse than escaping the lair of a sinister psychopath only to end up in a car that simply refuses to start. While we hope that most people, even serial killers, typically upkeep their vehicles so that they’re reliable, the nail-biting experience wouldn’t be the same for the audience if the engine roared on the first go-around. In fact, movies looking to add more suspense will likely have the killer already hiding in the backseat or a siphoned fuel tank just to keep things interesting.
What horror movies have this cliché? Poltergeist (1982), Leprechaun (1993), Phantoms (1998), and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) to name a few.
2) Excessive jump scares
While a jump scare or two is expected in every horror movie, they’re less likely to keep the audience on the edge of their seats if they’re used too often. Needless to say, even with this knowledge, filmmakers everywhere continue this bread and butter horror cliché to arouse the excitatory hormones of horror fans.
What horror movies have this cliché? Psycho (1960), Carrie (1976), The Shining (1980), and The Silence of the Lambs (1991) to name a few.
3) Poor or lack of cell reception
We’re living in a very connected era where cell phone technology is the societal norm. However, it seems that whenever a character in a horror film finds themselves in trouble, their phone is dead, out-of-range, or simply nowhere to be found. While some of our genre favorites came about at a time when cell phones were a luxury, recent films have to get a bit more creative to write in some inventive ways as to why this high-tech gadget is conveniently malfunctioning.
What horror movies have this cliché? You’re Next (2011) and 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) to name a couple.
4) Running away from the killer…upstairs
This horror movie cliché is a tale as old as time and it seems that this trope trends to the way characters run for their lives in general. Why is it that when a murderer is chasing you that you feel the best place to go is upstairs? Yes, there are likely more hiding places, but your chance of escaping without plummeting to the ground is unlikely. Needless to say, this classic flight response is expected and even mocked throughout the popular Scream franchise.
What horror movies have this cliché? Too many to count!
5) The character split up
Last but certainly not least is the ongoing lack of a buddy system. Groups of friends and family members often split up in a pivotal part of the plot making them easier to pop off by the killer. While this element in horror movies makes for a more entertaining narrative, it’s not practical and almost always ends in bloodshed.
What horror movies have this cliché? Friday the 13th: The New Blood and The Thing (2011).
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What horror movie clichés didn’t make our top five list? Drop your favorite one in the comments section below.