Four Horror Film Cliches I Cant Stand

Four Horror Film Cliches I Cant Stand

Horrorific content by Brian B. on June 20th, 2020 | Culture |

Clichés are, well… cliché. While there’s often a good reason behind including one cliché or another, they simply get overdone. This is especially true if the creative team is a bit lacking.

Admittedly, given that hundreds of thousands of movies have been produced, there’s a good chance that someone, somewhere has done “it” before, whatever that it might be. Yet clichés are worse, they’re what you see over and over again. And sometimes you can’t help but roll your eyes.

That’s true for the 4 clichés on this list. While the original and best iterations of the concepts are often admirable, groundbreaking even, the frequent copycats have watered down their original ingenuity. So let’s take a look at 4 eye-rolling horror film clichés.

Psycho-Style Shower and Bathroom Scenes

The original Psycho was bone-chilling. A shower is an intimate place where people can relax in their lonesome. The bathroom is where we let our guard down and as the water drones on, its’ easy to get lost in your thoughts. That makes it a great place for an ambush as well, and the original Psycho scene will go down as one of the most important scenes in horror film history. Up until 1960, when Psycho was released, it was also one of the most graphic “murders” on the Silver Screen.

Since then, I struggle not to roll my eyes when someone steps into the shower in a horror film. It’s often a clear warning that something is going to go down. Maybe the bathroom dweller will escape, but whatever evil force is about will likely show up.

The Winners and Losers Are Already Chosen

Horror movies are filled with stereotypes and characters are often pressed into a certain mold. Have you ever watched the first few minutes of a horror movie and instantly felt confident in who was going to die and who’d live? And have you also guessed the order in which they perish? If you watch enough horror films, it becomes second nature. And knowing not only who will die but when gets boring.

Even the supposedly “shocking” deaths, like when one of the main characters goes down, are often predictable from the onset. You know who’s going to lay down on the wire. A few films have done a good job of genuinely and skillfully subverted expectations. The 2005 film Feast, for example, tripped me up a few times with characters dying at rather less predictable times.

Yet so many deaths feel too cliché.

Spoiler Filled Trailers

The above cliché isn’t limited to the horror genre. These days, you can skip a lot of movies simply by watching the trailer. Some give away all the major plot points. What’s up with that? Suspense is one of the best driving forces in a film. Worse yet, this cliché makes all the above clichés easier to spot. You can start to lay out the plot, determining who dies and when. And you already know the silly shower scene is coming.

Hopefully, movie studios stop using trailers as two-minute summaries of the entire film. Focus on a single good hook, reel the audience in, but don’t spoil the imagination.

Horrifically Dumb Decisions

Nothing makes me cringe more than a really, really dumb decision or characters who seem to always choose the wrong course of action. I get it, if a character always makes the perfect decision they’ll get out of nearly every situation. But sometimes the decisions are so stupid it’s hard to suspend belief. You sit there thinking “no one would do something that stupid.”

And it’s nice to see characters make good choices but fail anyway. Take the original Alien film, most of the characters make solid decisions. Sure, Kane prods an egg and ends up with an alien on his face, but besides that the characters proactively fight the xenomorph and make pretty good use of their surroundings and limited weapons. The xenomorphy, however, has their number.

Compare this to the later Promethius film where characters make bad decisions left and right. Take Millburn, for example. He doesn’t just prod an egg, he coos and practivally plays pickaboo with an alien snake-creature. Rather than soliciting horror, the seen forces you to groan with disbelief.

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