If you’ve seen enough horror movies, you’ll notice that they’ve become increasingly stale nowadays. Sometimes it feels like the characters on screen know when they’re about to get whacked by the psycho killer in the woods, and even they can’t fool the audience. How stupid do some of these movie directors believe the average American viewer has become? The following bag of tricks are currently destroying modern horror cinema:
1.) The Peek-a-boo, I See You
This is the moment when the director cleverly places the actor (usually some blond that can’t stop crying) into the right third of the screen. The camera pans in slowly and the creepy music starts playing. Then suddenly the killer’s face pops out the shadows directly behind the sobbing blonde. Since it would make too much sense for the killer to hack his victim instantly, (as killers in the real world are prone to do, don’t ask me but I know) the director always gives the heroine a few seconds to realize that some psycho is behind her before she runs screaming down the hallway. This leads to my next boneheaded Hollywood gaff.
2.) The Hide and Seek
I don’t understand the obsession with childhood games with these directors. My theory is that in order to be considered for directing a horror movie you must prove you have an infantilism fetish. No wonder Hitchcock wore those huge pants; he was hiding a diaper underneath.
The Hide and Seek usually occurs right after, and sometimes before, the “Peek-a-boo, I see you.” Invariably, the killer walks slower than molasses while the heroine barrels away like an Olympic sprinter. By the time one wonders why she doesn’t just run straight home or to the nearest police station, the heroine is already stuffing herself into some hiding spot like an oven, walk-in freezer, or meat packing plant.
3.) The Alley Oop
This is also known as the “false alarm.” This is the scene where the heroine is stumbling around trying to find one of her friends. She thinks she hears a noise and turns her head. Then, just as she rounds a corner she crashes into a body in the shadows. Oh no! Then the camera angles around and we see it’s just her boyfriend with a silly grin. Whew. That’s the set-up. The spike comes when suddenly the killer jumps out of nowhere and the audience is forced to accept that although he had all the time in the world to slay the heroine when she was alone he chose not to for the sake of drama.
4.) The Scooby-doo
I have to credit the creators of Scooby-doo for making perhaps the best animated horror spoof ever. But sometimes I swear I’ve watched scenes that look like they were actually stolen from the cartoon.
The “Scooby-doo” is your prototypical chase scene. The only thing more obnoxious than watching out of shape actors stumble across the scene is how the camera jerks around to make us feel like we’re in the moment.
5.) The Ingenious “Let’s Split Up” Game Plan
In all fairness, the character who suggests this is usually the drunken frat boy with popped collars who gets slashed first anyway. Even though all the actors might be in a single house, the idea that they need to form three search parties to search all of 10 rooms somehow makes perfect sense to them.
6.) The Deadly Wee-wee
This is almost always a given in any horror flick. Some moron goes off alone to do his business and gets brained by a pick-ax/shot with an arrow/eaten by the woods, etc. It’s such a freebie for the director it amounts to artistic welfare.
7.) The Lazarus
I think it’s fair to say that ever since Michael Myers survived getting plugged with six .357 rounds at the end of Halloween, the horror genre has slid disastrously downhill. There’s a new rule in Hollywood. Killers can’t die until they’ve appeared in enough annoying sequels to cause suicide pacts even among the most diehard fans.
Nothing short of a nuclear explosion seems to stop your modern day madman. Even then we’d still be treated to seeing the killer’s hand twitch among the radioactive rubble to let us know he’s still alive right before the credits roll.
8.) The Great Escape
This is when the whole freaking police department has the killer cornered on a ledge or in a hole somewhere and he still gets away among a barrage of bullets. We’re meant to believe that, like the “Lazarus” trick, the psycho is somehow invincible. Yet when he attacks the heroine moments later she just knees him in the groin to get away.
9.) The Famous Coitus Interruptus
It seems like all people have time for in horror movies is having sex and walking into dark rooms. At some point the high school quarterback and his doe-eyed cheerleader get it on in a lake, or a bed, or a bed in a lake. Then thwack! A machete through the chest. I’ve always admired that subtle Hollywood finger wagging at premarital relations, but the redundancy of the scene is a crime as well.
10.) The Overly Creative Murder
This isn’t so much a scene as it is a symptom of the sad state of today’s movies. People can’t be killed by simple butcher knives or axes anymore. It has to involve hydrochloric acid, cryogenic freezing compounds, or the use of some ancient weapon. The method of the murder isn’t what’s particularly troublesome, it’s that there is too much emphasis placed on the special effects required to make the scene.
So there you have it. I just saved Hollywood possibly millions of dollars they would have wasted in useless focus groups and board meetings about how to make a better horror movie. All any director needs to do is read my guide, and do the opposite of everything above. When you start seeing flicks that actually scare the pants off you, you’ll know who to thank.