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5 MORE Scary Movie Tropes, And Recent Films That Got Them Right

 

Whether you’re an avid fan of horror movies, or only a casual one, surely everyone is aware of the horror movie tropes that plague the theaters. Sometimes you see a trailer, an opening scene, or even just the title of a certain film, and you can already guess how it’s going to end. Everyone dies, the monster is banished back to where it came from, a suburban family gets their normal lives back– but there’s a reason these tropes exist, and that’s because they work. They’re scary because they prey on a human’s most basic instincts.

And so, while a lot of scary movies can be predictable, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad films. In this list, let’s explore a few more of my favorites that embrace the tropes, without falling victim to them. Grab your shotgun, your neighbor’s field scarecrow, your holy water, and let’s take a look.

 

 

  • Zombies

A new virus breaks out across the planet, and its victims either become inexplicably aggressive, or simply crave the taste of human flesh. While the disease is usually shrouded in mystery, the remainder of the plot tends to follow the same pattern: normal family tries to escape, other families try to attack and loot, they find out they can kill the zombies with a shotgun, they race for their lives for the nearest human “safe zone” while losing a friend or two. In the end, either humans build new lives in zombie-free areas, or a cure is found for the disease. Drop curtain.

One movie that got it right:

Quarantine (2008)

Based on the Spanish film Rec, the plot of Quarantine specializes in zombies that don’t follow the same formula for those in The Walking Dead. While the ending admittedly left me somewhat unsatisfied, the leading action up to the climax had me on the edge of my seat, guessing what could possibly happen next. It’s certainly not your average “zombie” film.

 

 

  • Serial Killers

Lots of kids watched real-crime documentaries while home sick from school (or at least, I did.) and yet, something about serial killers movies have always seemed so… over the top. The main villain kills people, yes, but there’s no reason. There’s no driving force, it seems as if they only commit the crimes for the fun of it. While that can be frightening in its own sense, when the serial killer in a serial killer plot is given real reason for their actions, that only makes them more real, more frightening.

One movie that got it right:

Halloween (2007)

A number of Halloween purists might argue that any remake is a disgrace to the franchise, and I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. But this was the first Halloween film I saw, before even the original classic, and coming into it blindly in that way made me enjoy it. With just enough characterization, backstory, blood, and fright, I felt like I understood Michael Myers as more of a character than simply a bloodthirsty murderer.

 

 

  • Monsters

Like zombies, monsters can fall into a similar trend, in that they simply are what they are, no explanation required. They might be based from old lore or myths, they might be demons, they might be experiments gone wrong, but whatever it is, they only exist to kill people and feed on their flesh. Why? Who cares, monsters are cool!

I guess, moreso than with zombie films, I can give monster films a pass in this sense– because that’s simply what monsters are supposed to be. Monsters.

One movie that got it right:

Silent Hill (2006)

Based on the video game franchise of the same name, Silent Hill follows Rose Da Silva and her adopted daughter, Sharon, as they travel to the abandoned town of Silent Hill in search of answers to Sharon’s past. What Rose uncovers is far more than bad memories, her daughter’s dark memories becoming the source of growing hellscapes and monsters that infest the decrepit town.

 

 

  • Ghosts

An unhappy spirit infests a home, wreaking havoc on the family residing there. Whether they are vengeful, a poltergeist, or a demon posing as something more benevolent, it all usually ends in a culmination of attacks, and a priest blessing the house to purge the spirit. Following the emotional climax, the camera pans away from the family sitting in the back of an ambulance, or something. The Moving Into a New House trope I talked about in my last installment follows this same course.

One movie that got it right:

The Others (2001)

A ghostly film that’ll not only unsettle you throughout the building action, but also absolutely floor you with the twist ending. This movie still moves me, even after seeing it so many times. While the opening follows the same patterns as any other ghost film– bumps in the night, moving doors, mysterious footsteps, the climax is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

 

 

  • Aliens

An undiscovered species lands on earth from the sky (AKA, aliens, you know.) They either want to make an attempt at peace with the humans, or they wish to simply unleash destruction to completely exterminate the entire human race– whether that be for their own gain, for the sake of the planet, whatever. It tends to end the same, as well: the humans are victorious, either finding ways to kill the aliens, or in one way or another, forcing them to flee the planet. (Or, like in the classic Mars Attacks, blowing their heads up through the smooth sound of Slim Whitman.)

One movie that got it right:

The Fourth Kind (2009)

Another beauty in the found-footage style, this film stands out from others in that it claims to be including of true documented footage of interviews with supposed alien abductees. The grittiness of the “archival” footage, the beautiful storytelling and pacing, and the documentary-style layout still leave me pondering this film years after first seeing it.

 

Check out the previous installment of 5SMT&RFTGTR (wow, what an acronym!)

Kelsey Morgan
Kelsey graduated from Boise State University with a BA in Visual Arts, and is currently working as a freelance writer, while doodling anime on the side with one hand and petting cats with the other.

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3 thoughts on “5 MORE Scary Movie Tropes, And Recent Films That Got Them Right

  1. Another round of interesting picks, Kelsey! It’s fun to see what you’ll come up with for each category. Did you ever see the Host? That’d be my pick for monster movie. Silent Hill…I never thought of it as a monster movie. Neat to see that through your eyes. The Others I really thought was one of those instant classics. Not a lot of people I meet are fans so refreshing to find someone who liked it too. But what I like most is wondering what you’ll come up with for your list. Fun! (Did I say that already? 😉 )

  2. Well expressed thoughts regarding Rob Zombie’s 2007 HALLOWEEN reboot. I’m one of those people who at the time considered even just the idea unnecessary and almost disrespectful to the original 1978 masterwork.

    However, as you pointed out, coming in fresh without having seen the orginal, allows a ‘clean’ perspective to appreciate the film for purely the suspense and thrills it delivers without the burden of weighing its legacy and unfairly comparing it to its predecessor.

  3. I agree! Particularly for younger generations who might not have been around during the hype for the original film, and who aren’t big fans of older films in general, I think remakes are a great way to garner their interest into watching the originals (where they’ll then, hopefully, see how the original is superior, hahaha!)

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