Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
It’s that time again boys and girls, it’s Tropes Time!
Just when I thought I was done those tropes pulled me back in, like your freeloading cousin who said he was only going to stay a week on your couch, but is still around months later eating up all your snacks. Horror tropes can be useful devices when utilized in imaginative ways but let’s face it, most horror movies just stick them in there because they couldn’t think of anything better. With a big old SPOILER ALERT here are another TOP 5 ANNOYING HORROR MOVIE TROPES (Part 4):
#5 I Know Who You Are And I Saw What You Did
Horror connoisseurs will know exactly when this trope was born. The year was 1954, the movie was called Rear Window. And while a slew of similar films such as 1965’s “I Saw What You Did” and 1981’s Blow Out put their own inspired and imaginative spin on the premise of an ordinary person hunting a killer,l only to have the tables turned on them, most of what has followed, especially recently, are just lazy rehashes of Hitchcock’s brilliant movie.
Disturbia was sort of a remake of Rear Window (which I enjoyed) so I’ll give it a pass but The Woman in the Window and The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window (both Netflix creations) feel like lazy stories that take the trope of a peeping tom minding other people business and just sucks all the fun out of it. Thank goodness we have the classics to wash these mindless uninspired versions out of our brains.
Hell, I’ll rewatch Brian DePalma’s Body Double and Sisters, (both Rear Window rip-offs themselves) over The Woman in the Window any day of the week.
#4 Straight Up With a Twist!
Ah the twist ending. When it’s good it’s really, really good (Saw, Shutter Island, The Others). But good lord, when it’s bad it’s terrible!
You see for a twist to work, it has to be bulletproof or else sharp-eyed fans are going to rip it all to shreds. Take for example M. Night Shamalamdingdong’s The Village. This is a movie that spent roughly two hours building solid tension, supported by good acting (which in itself is a twist when it comes to Shyamalan’s movies). But as soon as the twist is revealed it all falls apart. Simple question, do airplanes not exist in this world? How about city lights or I don’t know, hikers?! We’re supposed to believe in all this time no one has ever come across these people?
High Tension is another good movie brought low by a twist ending that basically rips apart all logic of what came before. For future screenwriters out there who decide they want to throw a twist ending in because it will make their movie seem “smart”, might I suggest reading it aloud to a few friends to make sure that your idea actually holds up, and won’t fall apart like a house of cards once revealed.
#3 Bringing Back the Dead
Losing a loved one is never easy and we all wish we had done or said more before losing that person(s) we loved. But I’m yet to find someone who thought it would be a good idea to enact a spell to bring back the dead because, let’s face it, that never ends well.
Again, this isn’t a terrible trope; hell it’s more of a plot device than anything else. And horror fans can all think of fun movies that did this one right (Reanimator, Pet Semetary, The Crow) but damn there are so many that did this wrong it’s hard to believe they even bothered. The Lazarus Effect, Flatliners (both versions) and, possibly the worst one of them all, Alien: Resurrection, all wasted this cool trope in varying degrees of laziness and hilarity.
So if you’re gonna go the resurrection route make sure you don’t forget to include the most important elements — it has to be fun, freaky and worth our precious viewing time.
#2 Country Folks Be Crazy
If I lived in the country I would probably hate this genre of horror. Ever since Deliverance it seems like any horror movie set in the countryside is going to make obvious villains of the people who live there. The Hills Have Eyes, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Straw Dogs, the list goes on and on. Most recently the Ti West movie X takes a group of would-be adult filmmakers and pits them against an old couple when they rent out a place on their rural countryside property. The only movie I can think of to take this worn out trope and brilliantly turn it on its ear was Tucker and Dale vs Evil. If you haven’t seen it, you should get on that right away!
I’m not saying these movies are bad; quite the opposite. But I am saying at this point if I was to watch a horror movie set in the countryside where the folks there were actually normal law-abiding citizens, I would probably find it more shocking than any gruesome axe-wielding farmer they could come up with.
Honourable Mention: The Obvious Whodunit
Might I present the latest entry into the Scream franchise as a prime example of what NOT to do. Not only did I figure this out in the first 15 minutes of the movie (I’m not exaggerating folks, I checked my watch) the bloody movie even TELLS you who one of them are!
Another easy way to figure out whodunit? Pay close attention to the one character who gets the least amount of screen time (The Bone Collector, Valentine, Kiss the Girls, Friday the 13th Part V). There, I just saved you two hours of your life; you’re welcome.
#1 Watch the Damn Road!
Have you ever noticed in movies and television shows no one ever locks their cars when they get out of them? I do, and it drives me nuts! Same goes for this stupid, stupid trope.
A person or persons are driving down a road way, either talking or arguing with someone in said car. And for SOME reason only known to the person who wrote this story, they choose to have entire conversations LOOKING at the person in the other seat and not keeping their eyes on the road. I’ve been driving for more than a decade now and I have never once taken my eyes off the damn road as long as people do in horror films.
This has got to be the laziest set up for a story ever and boy does it set me off! “WATCH THE DAMN ROAD!” The list of movies that utilize this trope to set up an accident is too long to count, but I’m sure as you’re reading this you’ve come up with at least five of ‘em.
For added stupidity points think about the times you’ve seen someone turn all the way around to yell at the person in the back seat. As Forrest Gump said, “stupid is as stupid does” and it doesn’t get more stupid or trope-y than this.
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!
Which horror movie trope annoys you the most? And if there’s a trope you didn’t see on this list you can check out the three previous lists below: