It’s high time we change the recipe for our horror movies. While in India, the horror scene needs major haul, Hollywood (give or take a little independent cinema from across the world) can be seen falling back on the same tropes it has used so far. Any movie not following this formula automatically gets discounted and won’t find a mention on this list. What you will find instead are the most cliched or cliches from Hollywood and Bollywood that we’ve seen way too many times to count. Side note: there are a handful of movies that truly scare the living daylights out of you and it’s great to see that number climbing. Coming back: these are cliche scenes your brain has already flagged and you’ll be nodding your head going through this list.
- The jock/stud always trying to prove what a complete testosterone package he is
The alpha male of the pack, this guy doesn’t shy away from adventure. He’s also the one to die in the most gruesome manner in the end, perhaps his only redeeming quality.
- The damsel and the forced distress
This girl’s always helpless and never resourceful. Hell, she can’t even run straight without falling a buzzillion times first. I get it, you’re panicking, but can you at least run. This easy prey suffers an uncomfortable end too.
- The joker in the pack who goes out big
The Cabin in the Woods
The idiot of the gang, the stoner, the beer-chugger, the one with all the lame jokes that impress no one. At times, his death is more a sacrifice that fires up the protagonist, so at least she or he escapes.
- The car that won’t start
The one time you want your car to start on time is the one time its battery dies. Dies. And surprise! You’re in a remote location, too. Survival of the fittest doesn’t
- Where’s the phone when you need one? Oh, wait
Between that and the phone battery dying, you’re done for. When shit goes down, these are the first things to go down with it. Like, why even bother when you know you have to go Neanderthal on the monster’s ass.
- The token black guy versus the token ditzy blonde
We’ve seen this in a lot of Hollywood horror movies. The token African-American male always died first until recently when the token ditzy blonde replaced him. We, may be, need a new recipe for these films, one that kills of characters based on their flawed judgement and not the colour of their skin or hair.
- Walls, creepy basements, creaky staircases, the evil furnace, abandoned houses
Before the major setting is revealed, these are the locations where the story first unfolds. Other times these locations are like connectors that flow throughout the movies. Yet, most other times, this is also where the story reaches its final end.
- Sex is a bigger killer than the constant stress here
It’s when things are heating up that stupid humans die. It’s almost like their pheromones become a GPS device for the monster.
- Cheap thrills and loud sounds
So you’re half off your seat for no real reason. This is almost annoying. I can understand suspenseful music adding to the mood but when it becomes as overused as a piece of tissue, you pray there’s a at least a ghost or a zombie-dog in there somewhere.
- Big ass props you never use + guns you use last minute
The knife, the stone, the fashioned-at-the-last-minute spear. We spend more time tracking them in the film and less time watching the protagonist making full use of it. It’s always the unlikeliest of items (like guns, explosives) that come to the rescue, and you’re left there rolling your eyes.
- The cheap white eye lenses to make you believe that’s actually a ghost
Darna Zaroori Hai
And while we’re at that, let’s also add the white saree, the open black hair and the peeling, diseased skin. Oh god that is lame. Speaking of horror movies in India — that by the way need an adrenaline shot to the heart — these are the tropes that kill the movie rather than add suspense. Before the movie even takes off, you know how scary (not) the monster will be. Strange that we’ve only started to add CGI effects where others have already aced the game. Even the CGI we use is dull and ineffective.
- Let’s split up
the cabin in the woods
How about no? That never ends well. Makes you wonder if they’ve ever seen a movie, leave alone a horror film. Splitting up the group is very thing that leads them to the monster, and never brings them any closer to a solution.
- The monster never died, and the plot never ended
Although the movie did. Isn’t there always a trailing scene — towards the end (duh!) — where noise in the closet, or direct eye contact with the survivor confirms there’ll be a sequel. I’m sure there are more ways to bring sequels to the franchise. It just dilutes the impact.