Eight Horror Movie Cliches That Are Getting Old


parodyscreamClichés. Elements that have been used so many times they have lost meaning. Or in the case of horror, lost the element of surprise and creepiness. Maybe I’m alone on this one, but it definitely takes away from the scary-factor when I already know what’s gonna happen.

I get that not all movies are going to be completely original, but they could switch it up at least a little bit! I’ve put together eight horror film clichés that just need to go!

1. “Why won’t you die?”

The villain rarely dies after he is “killed.” I get that the reason filmmakers do this is because usually the first “death” of the villain seems too easy. By having them come back, it creates more tension as well as a more difficult situation for the hero. But seriously, when it happens so often that you’re already expecting it, it almost takes away from the scariness of the film.

2. If you’re black, you’re basically screwed.

Just stop.

3. Madonna/whore complexes

It’s really irritating to me how women in horror are either portrayed as these hypersexualized beings, or conservative virgins. And of course, it’s the “whore” that ends up getting killed or punished, whereas the virgin usually lives. Seriously filmmakers, ya’ll need to quite categorizing women like this. It’s kinda icky.

4. Unnecessary nudity

Yes, I agree that sometimes it makes sense for there to be nudity in a film, but sometimes they just go a bit over the top. Most of the time the nudity has little to nothing to do with the plot. I’m sure plenty of people will disagree with me on this one, but I watch horror movies to be scared, not to see boobs every ten minutes.

5. It takes a ridiculous amount of time for the characters to figure out that they need to destroy the brain to kill a zombie.

I’ve always thought it was common knowledge that you have to destroy the brains to kill a zombie, so it’s pretty irritating that it takes characters a while to figure that out. This means that either zombie films don’t exist in their universe, they live under a rock, or are just kinda stupid. Then there are also the dummies that know about the brain rule, yet decide to waste ammo by shooting them below the neck. If your aim sucks, a gun won’t be as useful to you as a knife/sword, or any other weapon that doesn’t require ammo. Come on people, get your shit together!

6. Human characters who walk away from serious/fatal injuries.

It’s one thing when supernatural type characters come back, but it’s another when a human character (usually the protagonist) walks away from something that should have killed or seriously injured them.Yes, I get that it’s a movie and therefore not real, but still.

7. “Let’s split up!”

Horror is a lot scarier, to me at least, when it’s more believable, and it’s difficult to believe that in a horror film type situation, anyone would think that splitting up would be a good idea. Drop this cliché filmmakers!

8. Running upstairs to get away from an intruder

Let’s think this one through. There’s an intruder in the house, with intentions of hurting you. Why would it be a smart idea to run upstairs, where there are basically no exits? And stop hiding in closets. Isn’t the closet one of the first places you look when you know someone is hiding from you? Unless you have an industrial panic room in your bedroom closet, there is no reason why anyone should be running upstairs and into the closet to escape an intruder.

One could say that another horror film cliché is having really stupid characters. I didn’t give it its own category just because I feel like stupid characters can apply to quite a few of the clichés I have already listed. If you have any more annoying horror clichés that should be laid to rest, please post them in the comment box below!


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      1. Tammy Anderson Furloni June 13, 2013 at 4:41 pm

        I totally agree with all of these! Great list!

      2. Tiago June 13, 2013 at 5:13 pm

        I hope Political correctness don’t get to horror. It will be boring.

      3. dcers35 June 13, 2013 at 5:17 pm

        What about “I’ll be right back”?

        • BrideOfChucky June 14, 2013 at 3:26 am

          I totally forgot that one!

      4. Gee June 13, 2013 at 7:35 pm

        I’d like to add…

        Last minute saves.

        The moment where our hero is staring the barrell of a gun/knife/alien gnashers and a helper appears with a gun or whatever and saves them.

        Predictable. This has run it’s course.

        • BrideOfChucky June 14, 2013 at 3:27 am

          I agree! It’s super irritating and predictable!

        • Nick June 28, 2013 at 11:54 pm

          you know this is actualy depending on how you bring it. i’ve been watching this TV show ‘supernatural’ for a little while now(this is a TV horror serie). like these two brothers have to fight of evil shit from ghosts to demons. now also here are those last minute saves but in my opinion they aren’t so badly done because it takes a while before it happens and also both of them have been in a fight with the evil guy before helping one another, and if an episode really has a last minute save it’s ended by an epic oneliner which makes it pretty comic

      5. EndoftheDream June 13, 2013 at 8:33 pm

        ^ this is the best one.
        Numbers 1, 5 and 6 are the only ones that really hold any ground now. The rest have been picked on already and turned on their heads in horror so I don’t feel they apply so much anymore.

      6. Rena June 14, 2013 at 1:21 pm

        I don’t like it that a woman with normal sexuality dies, either..BUT, some would say the reason it exists as a horror cliché is that our base fear is falling out of the good graces of God and being punished..it is why the druggy usually dies, too. Ego, the really buff jock dies. Gluttony, the fat guy goes, too. The thing is, there are really only a few basic fears that have a nearly universal effect..and being cut off from eternity, from the creator, the fear of nothingness beyond the physical existance, no chance for attrition..well, whether or not you believe in God, it WORKS…

        • Tiago June 14, 2013 at 3:29 pm

          That was brilliant. You are right on spot about camp/slasher horror.
          That Hobbes’s philosophy (of exposing man’s weaknesses and flaws) vs. Rousseau’s view (Left wing ideology that politics is the source of man’s evil) is very misunderstood nowadays.

        • Rena Simi June 15, 2013 at 7:20 pm

          Thank you, Tiago. I only have a handful of theories and no real formal education. Quite a compliment from an evidently well read individual.

        • Tiago June 16, 2013 at 7:07 am

          Thank you back for the sweet words.

      7. Marigen Beltran June 14, 2013 at 3:03 pm

        Car trouble while running away from the villain

      8. Bonji June 14, 2013 at 3:30 pm

        When they run in the car to get away from the villain, and the victim does not lock the car doors.

      9. Krixous June 15, 2013 at 1:50 am

        I don’t like the tough guy cliche where its like i got this bitch and you just see him beating the fuck out of the killer without the killer fighting back or you know unable to put up a fight and all of a sudden bam one move the tough guys dead never understood that one

      10. LittleKrystalHorrorMovieGirl July 1, 2013 at 12:15 am

        The car won’t start. Just when you want it to, it never starts.

      11. L. A. Howard August 23, 2013 at 4:25 pm

        The “Four to Six College Students go to the cabin in the middle of the isolated woods/abandoned insane asylum/condemned haunted house in order to have a party/orgy/make a film/etc.” is getting a bit old.

        In that same vein, there’s always the extremely hormonal couple that teases the not-yet-a-couple-who-are-obnoxiously-nervous-around-each-other, and dude-who-tagged-along-because-he-has-all-the-drugs/alcohol. It’s just become too easy of a default.

        Also, can we end the shaky-cam once and for all? There’s a lot of great things that can be done with “found footage”, but sometimes I want to buy these poor, unstable people a tripod, if only to keep me from getting a headache..

      12. Truly Hopeless August 23, 2015 at 2:58 am

        Happy Ending Fake Out. It looks like all is well for the hero\heroine(s). The villain/monster is dead, they managed to save their remaining friends, and all of the problems they were dealing with before the events began (relationships, jobs, finding their own self worth, etc.) are miraculously solved. Then at the last minute it turns out the bad guy is still alive due to something they completely overlooked/forgot to do before the final confrontation and ready to kill our protagonist(s), or their loved ones (BTW, obvious sequel bait should die as well). This annoys me so much, the worst offender being Drag Me to Hell (if you were going to have her die, KILL HER IN THE GRAVEYARD DUE TO DROWNING IN THE RAIN, NOT HAVE A DEMON BURN HER ALIVE BECAUSE SHE FAILED TO GET RID OF THE CURSED MACGUFFIN SHE LOST DUE TO A SCENE THAT WAS GLANCED OVER).
        I feel the only time it’s done right is if 1: the bad guy revealing that they’re still around doesn’t immediately result in the death of the protagonist or anyone else for that matter, and 2: the detail is something the audience hasn’t completely forgotten about and they know it will be brought up again. Otherwise, it’s done poorly.

      13. Dez January 24, 2016 at 3:46 am

        People that try to be completely quiet while hiding in the dark. With a flashlight on. Really annoys me.