Horror Movie Tropes That Make Us Wonder "How Can The Protagonist Be So Stupid?" Every Time
November 21, 2017 By Cait Russell
Come Across a Black Cat in a Horror Movie? You Best Be Feeding It Some Grade-A Tuna to Get on Its Good Side.
Photo by: Nebojsa Mladjenovic, via Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
For those who love horror, it's well known that the genre is littered with tropes, but there's one special type of trope that always has audiences literally screaming at the screen - the ones where despite all common sense, knowledge, and history, a protagonist does something that's well, dumb, and is bound to create a big ol' mess.
Whether they ignore blatant warnings, or cross the wrong person, helplessly watching the protagonist do something that's incredibly stupid can be infuriating to audiences, but it's really one of those "love to hate" situations.
Here are our favorite "I Cannot Believe You Didn't See That Coming" Horror Movie Tropes:
- If You Knowingly Cross a Witch, She's Going to Get You Back. Tenfold. - This one is common with movies where the protagonist is a child - specifically, a snotty child or teen, who is being smart, and thinks it's ok to be rude to (a) the old lady in the single haunted mansion on the block, (b) the creepy looking old lady that turns out to be a witch, (c) an old fortune teller who told you something you didn't like.
Basically, if you're mean to little old ladies in a horror movie, you're undoubtedly going to get cursed. So maybe try being nice to those little old ladies instead - offer them some tea and cookies or something, and maybe you won't be cursed to eternal damnation or whatever.
- If an Old Book Looks Creepy and/or Haunted, It Probably Is (Bonus Points for Being Written in Parseltongue). - Whether you find it in the attic of the new creepy house you've just moved into, in a mausoleum in the old haunted graveyard, a spooky cave, or some other haunted place, if you find a book that's (a) bound in flesh, (b) written in blood, (c) written in parseltongue/Latin/or some other unidentifiable language, (d) has demonic symbols on it, or (e) just looks creepy, well, if you read it, you can be sure some crazy stuff is about to happen.
Seriously. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know that reading an ancient text in a language you don't speak that is littered with countless visual clues that uh, it's definitely not something you should be reading aloud, is not a good idea. I mean, have these kids never seen Hocus Pocus? This is a trope that's used outside of horror movies as well, so it's pretty spectacular that so many protagonists keep falling for this one.
Also - to the writers/keepers of books containing spells to summon demons/monsters/whatever: You really need to do a better job at hiding your crazy-evil books, people.
- If You Try to Kiss The Girl in the Middle of the Chaos, Something's Gonna Jump Out at You - Ok, so this trope isn't always deadly, so much as it is widely inconvenient for the protagonists. But I have to say - if you're in the middle of fighting demons, running away from zombies, or otherwise preoccupied with oh, you know, staying alive, maybe it's not the best time to confess your love and try to kiss the girl.
Do you know what happens if you do? Spoiler: A monster is going to jump out and attack you and the girl, genius. Good work giving the enemies the upper hand, lovebirds.
- If You're Mean to an In-Movie Animal, They're Going to Transform Into Something Else & Exact Revenge. - First of all, you shouldn't be mean to animals to begin with. But, as many a macho jerk in a horror flick has learned, kicking a cat, swatting away a crow, or otherwise badgering wildlife tends to not end well.
You see, in many horror movies, a cat isn't just a cat - it could be a witch that's out on the prowl in her animal form, or, it could be her spirit animal, which means that yeah, it really is a cat, but that cat is going to rat you out. Be nice to animals, guys. Seriously. This one should be a no brainer on and off screen.
- If a Suspiciously Innocent Looking Child is the Only Witness to Multiple Heinous Acts, Then They're The Bad Guy. - Do not let looks deceive you. Those cherub cheeks and big eyes mask something darker - much darker - when they're seen on the silver screen in a horror movie. This one is pretty mind-boggling in theory, but in reality, it makes a lot of sense - no one wants to believe that cute little Timmy or Jane are in fact tiny little sociopaths.
There are often a few very heavy handed hints when it comes to the twist of "the child is the killer" - (a) he or she is always the sole witness to multiple horrific murders and/or atrocities, (b) animals, especially dogs, do not like him or her, and growl (this typically leads to said dog "mysteriously disappearing" or succumbing to a fatal "accident"), (c) the child is new in town, and his or her arrival coincides with all sorts of crazy happenings - murder, arson, disappearances, and so on, and if you were to look at local papers for the towns the child used to live in (which protagonists often do, once they finally get a clue), you'll see that surprise, surprise - the same sort of horror reigned down on the child's old town before he or she moved to your neighborhood to terrorize it.
I get it - even in horror flicks, people want to give children the benefit of the doubt, but man - how many people/animals need to be killed, how many buildings need to burn down before someone realizes that it's no coincidence that the only witness is the same baby-faced hellspawn? Seriously.
By the time people realize that the child is the monster, it's often too late.
- You're Not Safe Just Because The Villain Wasn't Behind Spooky Door #1. He's Actually Behind You. Boo. - This trope has become a popular jump-scare tactic in recent years, since opening a door "to safety" only to have the killer jump out was getting a bit old. So now, you've got the protagonist opening a door, seeing nothing there, and instead of hightailing it out of the danger zone (despite determining that the killer is not in front of you, you know, when you opened the door), they do what?
They turn around. And guess who is there? It's the bad guy, who apparently they didn't hear walking behind them this entire time. And he's armed with some sort of insane weapon - a giant knife, a machete, an axe, a chainsaw, whatever, but instead of running out the door you just freaking opened, no, you needed to turn around and see the guy standing there waiting to murder you, instead of using those precious few seconds to escape to freedom. Oops.
What's Your Favorite "COME ONNNNN, RUN, DON'T TURN AROUND!" Horror Movie Trope?
Let Us Know in the Comments Below!