Sommerleigh Pollonais – Senior Writer
Trope: a significant or recurrent theme. Lots of movie genres have them, but horror movies have to be the tropiest (it’s a word if I say it is!). When most of these were new they delivered on the chills and scares. But even hardcore fans like myself can admit that for every awesome horror movie we get, there are HUNDREDS of horror movies that just won’t let go of these tired, annoying clichés, that really need to take an axe to the head and be buried in a shallow grave.
Here are my Top 5 Most Annoying Horror Tropes:
#5 Clichéd Characters
The Jock, The Dumb Blonde, The Stoner, The Nerd. The list goes on and on. When it comes to horror movies a large body count is the main course on the menu, but throwing character development out the window is always a bad idea.
Instead of having people you can actually get invested in and therefore care when/if they bite the big one, most horror movies just throw in the one dimensional cliché of a person, whose name you never bothered to learn. So when they ultimately trip and fall over nothing, allowing said killer to skewer them kebab-style, you just don’t give a damn.
BAD USE OF TROPE: Nightmare on Elm Street, House of Wax, Urban Legends
GOOD USE OF TROPE: Midsommar, You’re Next, The Cabin in The Woods
#4 Jump Scares
*SIGH* Look, I’ll admit this trope still has some life to it. But like paprika or your favorite hot sauce, it’s best when it’s used sparingly. Your typical horror movie loves to pair the jump scare with the loudest sound possible, something tweens and your casual horror viewer will mistake for a genuine scare. But ask any true horror fan and they’ll tell you this crap gets old REAL FAST, and most of the time, because of said loud music, you can see them coming a mile away.
Also, as someone who’s owned cats since she was a child, they DO NOT sit around in closets waiting to jump out at you. Stop it Hollywood. Just, stop.
BAD USE OF TROPE: The Nun, Ouija, 99.9% of horror movies out there.
GOOD USE OF TROPE: Insidious, The Descent, The Conjuring Part 1 & 2
#3 Splitting Up/Going Off Alone
White people? Am I right? All kidding aside, this has got to be one of the dumbest and most implausible tropes out there, and I’m counting in “The Invincible Killer” trope. You think someone is stalking you, you think there’s a killer in the woods/house/asylum and your first choice is “let’s split up!” Really??!!
I just don’t see this happening in real life, as most people have enough brain cells between them to either lock themselves together in a safe room, or get the hell outta there together! Honestly, I blame Scooby Doo and The Gang for this one.
BAD USE OF TROPE: Fright Night, A Lonely Place to Die, House on Haunted Hill
GOOD USE OF TROPE: The Thing, Aliens, Scary Movie 2 (because it’s one of the funniest scenes in the movie)
#2 Running Upstairs/Stopping to Look Back
Why, why for the love of all things holy do they do this? Unless you can fly or have a jet-pack hidden in the attic, there is zero logic to running up the damn stairs! It’s one of the laziest tropes used in horror films, to drag out the “tension”, usually in the final act. I’ve actually seen horror movies where people bypass the front door and just run up the stairs.
And don’t get me started on the “look back”. You’re running at top speed, usually, in the dark, why would you do this people?! Honestly, think of the last time you ran from something that scared you. I don’t care if it was spider or the neighbour’s dog got out, you ARE NOT LOOKING BEHIND YOU! Everyone knows, that’s a sure fire way to fall flat on you face. Please, for the love of horror fans everywhere, stop with this nonsense right now!
BAD USE OF TROPE: Haunter, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
GOOD USE OF TROPE: Ready or Not, Pan’s Labyrinth, Cloverfield
Dishonourable Mention: Death by Sex
Okay. We get it. Back in the day, getting your groove on outside of marriage was a no-no. At least, that was the lie adults were selling to teenagers to avoid unwanted diseases like, pregnancy. But times are a-changing and we’ve learned smashing your R-rated parts together isn’t such a bad thing. So this trope needs to die.
BAD USE OF TROPE: Friday the 13th, Halloween, Hatchet II
GOOD USE OF TROPE: It Follows, Scream, Cabin in the Woods
#1 Single Tap
There’s a reason Double Tap is the most important rule in Zombieland and it’s a simple one. If you have the opportunity to put down the person/monster/alien that’s trying to eat your face, make sure they stay down!
How many times have you seen this happen in horror movies? It drives me insane! Why wouldn’t you make sure!?! Unless being in constant fear for your life turns you on or something (you might want to get counselling for that) just fire the second shot, or drop that hammer/axe/machete again. Then you can call it a night and maybe grab something to eat at the nearest drive-thru. Win-Win.
BAD USE OF TROPE: Hellfest, Wrong Turn, Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
GOOD USE OF TROPE: Zombieland, Scream, Evil Dead (2013)
So what horror tropes would you like to see dead and buried? Which ones do you think are still pretty good? I’m still a fan of The Final Girl, but I might be a little biased. No matter how you cut it, as long as they keep making horror movies, horror tropes, like the 18th century Victorian ghost haunting your bathroom, are here to stay.
Tell her I said ‘sup!
For the Top 5 Awesome Horror Movie Twists you can click here.
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes. Double Tap Baby!