October is upon us, which means that Horror Movie Season is officially here.
There’s no doubt that the genre has seriously evolved since the grisly disaster that is Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) first hit the screens. Of particular note is Jordan Peele’s Get Out, a black horror comedy that tackles racism and was both a commercial and critical success.
But even as early as 1996, Wes Craven’s Scream managed to deliver some real thrills while simultaneously poking fun at the indubitably comedic tropes of horror films.
And, as an adult, you can’t help but soak in the formulaic familiarity of hits like Halloween, The Omen, The Sixth Sense, The Ring, and I Know What You Did Last Summer, while also recognizing that many of the characteristics that embody the genre are kind of ridiculous. So read on to get a true taste of horror movie logic. And for an IRL scare, check out the 15 Most Haunted Places in America.
Bad Things Always Happen to Teens
The majority of classic horror films seem to happen to people who are in their senior year of high school of freshman year of college. Yes, the transition from pubescence to early adulthood is terrifying, but who decided putting groups of teens through the (sometimes literal) ringer was a thing?
If You Lose Your Virginity, You Die
This is a well-known trope, one that was lampooned in Scream, when film buff Randy says that the first rule to surviving a horror film is “you can never have sex… Sex equals death, okay?” And if you want to see how frequently this really happens, check out the 40 Best Horror Movies for Totally Freaking Yourself Out.
Same Goes for Drinking Alcohol
To quote Randy once more, “You can never drink or do drugs… The sin factor! It’s a sin. It’s an extension of number one.” Way to be heavy-handed with the puritanical ethics guys. And for some more laughable tropes, don’t miss these 40 Hilariously Impractical Things That Always Happen in Movies.
They Never Stay In Groups
Every time I watch a horror film, I always think, “Why does anyone spend any time whatsoever alone? Bad things happen when you’re alone. Stop going into your friend’s basement by yourself to get more beer. The killer isn’t going to come after you at a free Vivaldi concert in Central Park! Do that instead!”
Characters Always Run Up the Stairs
In Scream 2, Sarah Michelle Gellar‘s character bolts up a staircase to evade the slasher, leading to her untimely death. This is kind of funny, given that, in the original Scream, Neve Campbell’s character, mocks scary movies by saying they always feature “some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can’t act who is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door.” And if you’d rather see some realistic cinema, check out The 20 Greatest (and Most Realistic) Movie Fights of All Time.
Ghosts Only Wear Victorian Clothing
It’s 2018. Just once I’d like to see a ghost flashing an ironic T-shirt or some triple white Yeezys.
And Still Do The Exact Same Thing They Did When They Died
John Mulaney has a great joke about this, where he says that the really sad thing about ghosts is that they’re always doing the same exact thing that they did when they were alive. It would be nice to hear that the sweeper who haunts the movie theater applied for a position in management and got it, but that’s never the case.
No One Checks a House’s History Before Buying It
Pro tip: before you buy a creepy old house, you might want to check if there have been a suspicious series of grisly activity in it. And whether or not it has a secret basement, cellar, or attic. Really, half of the killings are on the real estate salespeople who continue to put the murder shack up on the market.
Or Some of Its More Creepy Accessories
Sure, let’s keep that chair that an old man was viciously stabbed in by his ex-wife. Seems legit. A-plus feng shui.
The Victims in The Ring Could’ve Just Stayed Away from Televisions
The 2002 blockbuster thriller is really a low-key cautionary tale about our addictions to our own TVs. Still, if I knew that a paranormal little girl was going to eat my face off by crawling out of a TV set in seven days, I’d go full David Thoreau and live in a cabin far from any technology. Though it’s worth noting that Watching Too Much TV Can Actually Kill You.
Almost All Problems Could Be Solved by Cell Service
Modern films try to get past this loophole by always having their characters in an area with bad service, but, realistically, most cellphone carriers have a wide range these days. But being able to text a police officer “The killer is X. I’m with him at Y address,” followed by a knife emoji, would ruin the dramatic tension of most films.
The Killers Always Use Outdated Weapons
Using a knife to kill a victim has an undeniably grisly cinematic quality to it, and it makes sense that a true sociopath would want to relish in his victim’s suffering. But a hook? A chainsaw? A meat slicer? Surely a gun would be easier.
Kids Are So Unnecessarily Creepy
Especially the ones that are sallow and hardly ever speak. The whole genre is like one long anti-children campaign.
No One Ever Listens to the Pets
Pro tip: if your dog barks at nothing, or your cat suddenly drops dead, or your horse flees in a panic, evacuate the premises immediately. For more on how this affects you in a non-media-viewing setting, check out 19 Things Your Dog Is Trying to Tell You.
Ghosts Always Write Messages on Mirrors
Surely, if you can communicate through supernatural channels, then you could just send a text?
And They’re Always So Vague
It’s not trivia night. Just tell me who you are and how and when you died so I can go back to watching Netflix.
And Easy to Contain
Oh, right, here’s a supernatural force than can fling you through the roof but can be stopped with a bed sheet. It’s like that scene in Twister in which a natural phenomenon that is strong enough to skin the hide off of cows and lift houses out of the ground can be avoided by slinging a J.C Penny belt over a pipe.
Killers Move So Slowly
I realize that part of the fear factor of, say, Michael J. Myers is that he really takes his good, sweet time. Everyone else is bolting down the streets screaming for help like a banshee, and he’s just there strolling at a casual pace, which sends an unnerving message of complete control in any situation. But it’s still kind of funny when you watch Halloween now and realize that much of the film consists of the killer just standing around silently staring at things.
No One Ever Notices The Most Obvious Suspect
Get Out is a brilliant film, but there is one element of it that doesn’t make sense in true horror movie fashion. How come no one noticed that all these dudes that are disappearing have dated the same girl? Also, if your girlfriend eats Fruit Loops separately from the milk, head for the hills!
Everyone Goes Inside Abandoned Buildings
Oh, what’s this? A dilapidated mental asylum in the middle of the woods? Why don’t we sleep here for the night? Sounds fun—and safe!
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