Do you know what a trope is? Of course you do, you just don’t realize it. Have you ever been watching a movie and thought to yourself “I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this somewhere before”? Chances are, you’re not wrong. A trope is a plot device. They’re used in every movie you watch, they feel very familiar, and sometimes are overused. But good or bad, they set the stage and get us ready for what’s to come.
When horror movies first started gaining popularity, the movie industry paid attention. They all wanted to copy the success of whatever movie made money. And they did. And then someone copied that. And so on. Today’s horror movies have started to move away from the old formulas. Writers and directors are coming up with new ways to scare, or tweaking old tropes to make them better. Here are some that I feel have been used to death:
- THE PHONE – The landline wire was cut, there’s no cell service, or of course, the phone died. It’s been done a zillion times and stopped being a surprise decades ago. And if our potential victims are lucky enough to find a working phone in a good cell area, chances are that there’s evil on the other end.
- NOT RUNNING OUT OF THE HOUSE – If the door is RIGHT FREAKING THERE, or there’s a window nearby, why does everyone always run further into the house???? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that isn’t the way to go.
- TRIPPING AND/OR FALLING – Anyone that knows me knows that I have a tendency to do both. Much more frequently than I should. But when you see someone being chased by a killer (especially a slow-moving one), you know they’re gonna fall and die.
- SEX – Why can’t anyone in a horror movie get laid without being murdered? Not cool and not fair. Horror movies aren’t supposed to be advertisements for abstinence. Just throw a condom at those lovebirds and let them go at it. There has to be another character to disembowel in the meantime.
- THE SPLIT UP – “You go that way, I’ll go this way”. Do you start taking bets as to which group survives? That one just isn’t fun anymore.
- THE ANCIENT INDIAN BURIAL GROUND – We know already!
I don’t mean to shit on all those tropes. I still enjoy them sometimes. Although there are others that have also been overused, that I still never seem to get tired of. No matter how many times I see them:
- THE MIRROR – Say Candyman or Bloody Mary a few times and you’re screwed. Wipe the steam or dust off and there’s someone (or something) waiting to kill you. If there’s a spirit trapped in there don’t break the mirror or it’s getting out. Stand behind me when I look in the mirror with no makeup on and you’ll instantly go blind (don’t say I didn’t warn you!)
- THE EVIL CAT – My cat is a big fat loveable furbaby! But I have volunteered at a cat shelter and have seen (and felt) their dark side! The possessed cat always works for me. If it wants to get you…it will!
- THE EVIL DOLL – If you have kids, then you know. When you check on them at night and all those little doll eyes are looking at you. Or worse, if you know someone that collects old, porcelain dolls. They will 100% kill you! My grandmother had one that was about three feet tall. She kept it in a locked plexiglass case. With air holes!!! And she had way too many crucifixes and rosary beads hanging in her room. Now I know why! Sorry, Annabelle, my grandma did it first.
- THE BASEMENT/ATTIC – Everyone has had a basement or attic that they refused to go in without the lights on. There’s just something a little creepy about them for some reason. If you’re watching a horror movie, then you know it’s haunted.
- THE SUPERNATURAL KILLER – I’ve heard mixed feelings on this, but I love it! Freddy, Jason, Michael Meyers. I love them all!
- JUMP SCARES – They’re just fun, what can I say? As long as there aren’t too many. I want to be scared – not startled every three minutes.
What do you guys like? Do you agree with me? Let me know which tropes you either love or hate!