There was a time when horror movies would shock and scare. Nowadays, all they manage to do is cringe and be funny. Okay, to be fair there are still some good movies out there. But more often than not, they adhere to these cliches. Here's my list of what I've observed in some of the recent movies I have watched.
Everyone has large houses: Very few movies show ghosts or demons haunting families that live in a shack or even an apartment. Favoring the rich, ghosts find it pleasurable to run rampant in houses with extravagant fittings and spacious rooms. These houses appear to be valued in thousands or millions. Complete with attics, basements, swimming pools and a large garden. But we are made to sympathize with these families who complain about having nowhere else to go and have no money. Yet, they have fully stocked fridges. And the latest phones and laptops.
Families usually have one bratty teenager who has a kid sister who immediately befriends a demon: The teenager in question can be either male or female, but their younger sibling is always a girl who takes a fascination to strange looking dolls. And when she can’t find anyone to play with, immediately approaches the monster hiding under her bed. They become the best of friends and it is up to the desperate parents to free them from evil clutches.
All this could be avoided if they just tell their kids NEVER to talk to strangers…and demonic looking entities. Show them pictures, sketches, whatever. Anyone person with horns sticking out of their heads should be avoided at all costs.
The teenager, on the other hand, is foul-mouthed, uncaring, but toward the end, develops a deep emotional bond with their family and are usually the ones who defeat the powerful intruder.
Doors slam shut: Always! No matter where these hapless characters are— the office, rooms, bathrooms, restaurant, kitchen, car-- the door always slams shut. It’s supposed to creep us, viewers, out but all it does in annoy us with the sound. Slam! Another slam!
How about keep the windows closed or use a door stopper? Or keep someone by the door or have them hold it open?
Characters don’t have friends available in time of need: If the movie centers around high school kids, their friends are usually taken out quickly. It is as if it is bad luck to be friends with these characters.
Other times, the characters don’t have helpful neighbors or a caring family. They are all alone, supposedly popular, but have no one to call when evil strikes.
Everyone investigates at nighttime: During the day, horror movie characters will be hinted about an evil presence lurking around their homes or schools. But do they investigate right away? Check under their beds? Nope.
Even if something scary occurs during the day, the characters take their own sweet time to investigate the source. It is as if they stand by the window, watch the beautiful sunset and think, “That was a cool sunset. Now I should probably go find out who turned all the dining table chairs upside down. First stop, the basement where the bulb went out two days ago but I didn’t bother changing. And let me pick a flickering flashlight while I’m at it. Do we have new batteries? No? Who needs extras. The ones in the only flashlight we have will work forever.”
Phones will stop working: The biggest cliché of them all! Phones will stop working as soon as something evil is sensed. A lot of phone services offer a wide coverage. Nowadays, you’ll even get a signal (spotty and weak) in mountainous areas. Yet, in horror movies, the characters forget to charge their phones or subscribe to services that only allow coverage inside their homes during the day.
Any time disaster strikes, the first thing to go are phones. Maybe, all homes should be equipped with flare guns. Anything that will signal neighbors and authorities that someone is in trouble.
Someone always gets stabbed: Be it an exorcism movie, a haunting or a thriller, someone always gets stabbed. Now here’s the thing. In real life, real sick murderers use terrible ways to get rid of their victims. Guns, poisons, etc.
I suppose movie makers realize that using guns would spark a controversial debate or that showing any other means would result in copycats. Whatever the reason, in horror movies, killers, demons possessing humans, possessed dolls, etc, all of them use knives.
And if it isn’t the evil entity that kills, it is these nervous characters who “by accident” stab their friends.
Excessive blood usage: The human body has an average of 4-5 liters of blood. But in horror movies, victims have twice as much. For the sake of coming off as a slasher movie, liters and liters of blood is sprayed everywhere until you just want to throw up at the sight. And if it isn’t from the victims, blood starts pouring from overhead. Blood rain. Ugh!
Ghosts are usually women: Some might argue that films can be sexist. Why only show women who are possessed by evil? Others might suggest that evil preys on the innocent. Regardless of the debate, ghosts are usually women in long gowns and demons only possess little girls. These girls have to be below ten, have a favorite doll or teddy and have bratty teenage siblings. See above.
Evil always wins. (Sequels?): When horror movies started being made, the one thing we always rooted for was the triumph of good over evil. We would cheer the hero, try to guess how they would get out of this seemingly impossible predicament.
Contemporary horror movies don’t care for happy endings. The characters would sacrifice their blood and loved ones to defeat evil, only to be hit by a car at the end or poisoned by a cupcake or take a leisurely bath only to be pulled down and drowned.
Not every movie needs to have a cliffhanger you know. Sometimes the movie can end on a hopeful note.
You know, leave us with a message that states that no matter how bad things get, good will always triumph. You just have to wait and persist.