The main issue with horror films, which may come as a shock, is not that they’re scary but that sometimes the people in them are ridiculously, skull-crushingly stupid. In fact you’d be hard pushed to find anyone who hasn’t rolled their eyes or shrieked ‘for God’s sake don’t go in there!’ exasperatedly at the screen every time some scantily clad teen has sauntered into an abandoned boathouse following a trail of blood. Jeez, take a hint much?
We can’t help but wonder whether these unfortunate victims suffered a lobotomy or whether they just needed a step-by-step guide prompting them when it came to safety.
Here’s the top ten stupidest things people do in horror films…
10. Not turning on the lights
Ghosts, demons and other evil things have an issue with lighting. This is handy for us as we never have to really see any horrible fates unfold if they are shrouded by darkness but it is also really annoying to watch a bunch of dimwits wander around their houses in the dark. No wonder they’re suddenly being hacked to death by an axe-wielding maniac. It’s not just impractical for finding keys, its an open invitation for a new friend to get all stabby. The simple flick of a switch will make the monster hiding in the corner a lot less terrifying, so the very least they could do is invest in a torch or a nearby lamp from the prop closet.
9. Going inside creepy old buildings
Surely a creepy looking building will do exactly what it says on the tin and be creepy inside too? Many a fruitful young life has been lost to curiosity. Abandoned insane asylums, dilapidated houses and weird old factories are among the more popular hotspots for beckoning death’s sweet release.
Apart from the less otherworldly threats of homeless people mugging them for change and the odd crack den, you’d think our protagonists would think twice about frequenting a place that looks like a complete shit-hole. Nonetheless, faces will continue to hit palms for as long as Cindy and Chad decide to cross the thresholds of not-so-humble abodes. That’s because we know that soon enough, we’ll be seeing the contents of their skull cavities.
Learn from their example: House of Wax, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hostel, House on Haunted Hill.
8. Ignoring the obvious
Your pets begin behaving strangely, your children saying they’ve seen somebody hanging out in their room at night and your fish fingers are moving across the plate on their own – these are the kind of things people in movies should take as warning signs before it’s too late. Ignoring them only ever makes matters worse. Take The Amityville Horror for example. Blood was oozing out of keyholes and the protagonist had completely wigged out and attempted to kill his family before they got round to contacting their estate agent. Strangely enough this ALSO happened in The Shining because Shelley Duvall failed to notice that her son could see dead people and her husband was a lunatic. Foolish fools.
Learn from their example: The Amityville Horror, The Shining, The Haunting, The Grudge.
7. Trusting weirdos
One fatal flaw within the horror movie genre is when Mr. and Mrs. Nice put too much trust into a quite blatant psychopath. Soon enough they’re being carted off to a sacrificial slab or being beaten with their own bicycle pump. Odd behaviour should never be overlooked and it is worth noting that appearances can be deceiving. Remember nerdy Norman Bates and the old couple from Rosemary’s Baby? You’d never expect either of them to be completely mental which is why it’s so messed up when you find out that they’re having ritual orgies or worshipping Satan and whatnot.
Learn from their example: Rosemary’s Baby, The Wicker Man, The Thing, Hostel, Psycho.
6. Messing with the occult
This rule of ‘not summoning demons’ should be deeply ingrained within all of us by now yet in the world of the horror movie, nobody has quite latched on to the fact that it spells trouble. Ouija Boards are a definite no-no after The Exorcist scared us witless for three decades and the dangerous consequences of chanting ‘Bloody Mary’ into a mirror is way too high.
Evil Dead showed us just how much damage extra-curricular reading can cause whilst Paranormal Activity made a valid point that provoking an evil entity will only encourage it to slam your doors more often, pull at your duvet and leave a complete floury mess in the hallway. We think that a leading character should receive a legal fine every time they break a horror movie rule to remind them about sparing the blushes of the local priests by staying away from potential triggers of an undead uprising. They’re more common than you think.
Learn from their example: The Exorcist, Evil Dead, Paranormal Activity, Final Destination, The Blair Witch Project.
5. Ignoring the expert warning
If people have already ignored the cautionary tales when it comes to toying with the supernatural, then it might be a good idea for them to actually listen to a respectable expert. People are always warned about the things they should not do and are given fairly straightforward advice on how to rectify the problem by a supernatural solicitor. The catch is that nobody ever listens. Not only was this probably annoying for their teachers in high school, it’s also really irritating to the freshly slain college students these people used to share a dorm with. You know, before they got them all killed.
Learn from their example: Paranormal Activity, Candyman, Urban Legends, The Blair Witch Project.
4. Hiding instead of making an escape
This has major implications on the characters in slasher-flicks as the body count is always inconveniently high. The sad part is that none of them died of decapitation, they just died of acute stupidity. It goes like this; girl or boy is attacked by crazy, socially inept masked madman and/or monster. Girl or boy runs. Girl or boy falls over or sustains and injury. Girl or boy then hides until the problem goes away. It doesn’t work in therapy and it doesn’t work in films. Unless the closet they’re hiding in has a shotgun or a bazooka inside it, then the terrifying experience is simply prolonged. Soon enough you know that the blood shall gush forth giving you ample time to cover your eyes.
Learn from their example: 30 Days of Night, The Strangers, Scream, Halloween.
3. Venturing into the unknown
Many people have a very rational fear of new experiences so what could possibly make the prospect of a new job or a vacation to a deserted cabin all the more terrifying? It’s not just ‘change’ people have to be scared of. What these idiots should be keeping their distance from is witches, weird monster people, sexually frustrated mutants and secluded fellows with some severe childhood traumas. Curiosity is an unfortunate trait and going back for more instead of getting the hell out of there is one of the stupidest things that people in horror movies always do. No matter what anyone says, it’s never too late to turn back.
Learn from their example: The Blair Witch Project, The Descent, Alien, Friday the 13th, The Hills Have Eyes.
2. Pissing people off
Karma almost definitely exists within the horror universe and if you’re a pain in the arse in this life, you’ll definitely be coming back as a toilet in the next. Hardly the most complex of concepts but generally speaking, the bad stuff usually happens to the most sinful characters. Especially the ones who have sex or take their clothes off within the first quarter of the film.
The J-Horror genre is built entirely around the notion that those trapped in the spirit world will seek revenge on those that harmed them in life. However, the main antagonist of most other horrors is nearly always a bitchy teenage girl. Carrie tuned into her psychic powers to kill all the kids that bullied her at school whilst the gross old gypsy woman in Drag Me To Hell went awol because she wasn’t allowed a bank loan. That’s definitely one to try if you’re ever overcharged in a restaurant.
If a character can’t keep on the right side of the rest of the cast then you can guarantee that they won’t be making it to the second act.
Learn from their example: Ringu, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Drag Me To Hell, Carrie, A Nightmare on Elm Street… shall I go on?
1. Thinking its all over
As day breaks and the screams fade away, our leading character breathes a sigh of relief. They are a survivor, they made it! No more hauntings or violent deaths and certainly no evil lurking around every corner. Nothing bad can happen in daylight, right?
Catching people out in daylight is the ultimate way to add insult to injury and, for this reason, one’s guard should never be let down. Even when the horrific night is over, there will be a director out there to make a shoddy sequel.
Learn from their example: Friday 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, Aliens, Insidious.