When any genre becomes popular and produces as many films as the horror genre, there are bound to be recurring themes that will be found in many of the films. Movies like The Cabin in the Woods and Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon capitalize on these commonly used plot cliches to great effect. But if one watches enough horror movies, you’ll start to get annoyed by some of the more frustrating cliches. Below are a few of the most common horror cliches that come to mind.
Teens in the Woods
From Evil Dead to Friday the 13th, putting teens in the woods and having something hunt them down is more overdone than cooking a steak for 4 hours in a 500 degree oven!! Yeah, I get why this is such an overused trope. The woods provide an isolated, dark environment, and can also serve as an easy explanation for why cell phones don’t work!! But to the seasoned horror aficionado, when we see a new horror trailer set in the woods, we roll our eyes back faster than a shark feeding.
Ever since The Exorcist hit theaters back in 1973, filmmakers and screenwriters have attempted to put their own spin on this sub-genre. Most of them have failed miserably and are completely forgettable while others have found moderate success. But, and I say this with as much tact as I can muster, it is 2017. Enough with the goddamn possession and exorcism-themed films!! All of them follow the same formula and they all result in an unsatisfying and expected conclusion.
The Spooky Little Kids
What is more scary than a spooky little kid in a horror film? I’ll tell ya. When there’s hundreds of movies that have a spooky kid in them!! When done right (2008s The Children), this sub-genre is very effective and will creep you the hell out. But for the most part, putting creepy ass kids in a horror film is a cheap and often times easy way to try and get a scare.
Sex = Death
People having sex in horror films is more of a harbinger of death than anything else. As soon as two people start making out, there’s about a 95% chance that they will be dead within the next five to ten minutes. Even worse is when the characters know there is a killer lurking about, yet they feel the need to crank out a quickie. I’m always good to go, but if a bunch of my friends have already turned up dead, well I think I can control myself.
Killing Your Loved One After They’ve Been Infected
We’ve seen this in 1978s Dawn of the Dead, 2002s 28 Days Later, and countless other zombie and infection-based flicks. This has become the go-to device to try and get the viewer to have the feels over some characters. It is overused and ingenue in 2017. If you want the audience to feel something for your characters, write better characters!!
Aliens Take Over Human Bodies
I’m always down for a great aline invasion flick, but why do the majority of them have to be about aliens taking over the bodies of human beings? This is the sci-fi version of the demon possession trope (as discussed above). The viewer isn’t dumb. We know this device is used because the filmmaker doesn’t have the budget to give us great-looking aliens on the screen, but enough is enough!!
The Suave, Classy Vampire
You can keep your effeminate vampires. I’ll take the creatures of the night from Near Dark, Carpenter’s Vampires, and Niles’ 30 Days of Night any day. Is there anything more yawn-inducing than Anne Rice’s civilized vampires, or the fruity Twilight vampires? I think not.
“No One Believes Me”
I understand that this device is used to push the plot forward, but it is overdone to the point that if someone knocked on my front door and told my my neighbor is really an alien, I’d probably believe them!! This isn’t to say that the films that use this device aren’t well done. The Faculty and Invasion of the Body Snatchers use this to great effect. I’m just saying it is time to think of something new. At its worse, when this device is used you know that no matter what is going on or how crazy the situation looks, neither the police, your parents, or anyone else will believe you. There can be a body ripped to shreds which clearly couldn’t be done by human hands, yet you will still be blamed.
“Someone Died in this House”
Another yawn-inducing trope. The haunted house is itself overused, but to explain the hating due to some dying in the very house in question, well, this is just lazy.
The Crazy Scientist
The crazy scientist is to blame for most of the problems in horror films. If a creature escapes from the lab, the crazy bastard who created it will always want to “capture it alive to study it.” No matter how many people around him he has seen the creature brutally murder, the crazy scientist will always insist that it is more valuable alive than dead.
There’s another angle to this common, overused trope. Every scientist who works on some kind of serum always thinks they have perfected it and then the dumbass will decide to try it on himself, horribly mutating himself and ruining his life, and the lives of the others around him, in the process.
Which horror movie plot cliches have I missed? How do you think these cliches can be avoided? Sign off in the comments section below.