The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting darker. One starts to feel those Halloween chills in the air.

As the wind howls and the werewolves growl, we mortal beings love nothing more than clinging to each other through a reliably cheesy horror film.

Like a good pop song, the horror genre thrives off of repetition. We need to know when the scary bits are coming, so we can feel the suspense mount….and mount…and mount….

….until we hit that jump-scare adrenaline high.

This is where tropes come in. Patterns that we recognise, that we’re familiar with, so everyone can yell “DON’T GO IN THERE!!” at the same time.

Below, some of the top 5 horror movie tropes in the business and the films that display them at their best.

[SPOILER ALERT]

1. ANYONE WHO IS SEXUALLY PROMISCUOUS (OR BLONDE) DIES // THE VIRGIN BRUNETTE SURVIVES

For all their blood and gore, horror films love nothing more than punishing *explicit* behaviour. The crazy friend of the protagonist – or any girl who doesn’t play by the rules – will sneak off with her man to have some fun. Moments later? Blood. Everywhere.

Meanwhile, the leading lady – pure of heart and brown of hair – has the brains and strength of character to survive.

SEE THIS TROPE IN:

Friday the 13th (Sean S. Cunningham, 1980)

2. TOKEN MINORITY DIES EARLY

Hooray! Diversity! Hollywood is making progress after all. Look at that one (1) Token Black Person go, with their completely unique, 3-dimensional and not-stereotypical sass!! They’re not scared of anything!!!

Splat.

SEE THIS TROPE IN:

Aliens (James Cameron, 1986)

3. THE JUMP SCARE

This is the bit where you cling to that attractive person you’ve casually sat yourself next to on the couch. You’ve been waiting all evening for this, haven’t you?

SEE THIS TROPE IN:

The Grudge (Takashi Shimizu, 2004)

4. CREEPY CHILDREN

What is it about childhood “innocence” that gives us grown-ups the chills? Is it the fact that we don’t get to skip and jump our lives away anymore? Or the fact that the skipping, jumping kids in horror films are normally sunken-eyed and at least 50 years dead?

SEE THIS TROPE IN:

The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)

5. THE VILLAIN IS FINALLY DEAD – OR ARE THEY?

The final battle is over. The popcorn has been scattered. We can finally rest easy.

OH MY GOD, IT MOVED.

This gimmick either serves to give you just one more scare to wrap things up, or to let you know that there are at least 12 sequels on the way. Typically the latter.

SEE THIS TROPE IN:

Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven, 1984)

 

 

About 

Sylvie Dumont is not quite Italian and not quite American. And certainly not French.

When she is not in the Raindance office, she is crying about her undergrad dissertation. If you know anything about Sicilian folklore, please contact her.

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