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In a world full of clichés and predictability, no other genre has suffered the brunt of it than Horror. How many times have you picked up a horror novel or seen a movie, inwardly groaned at its title and knew just what was bound to take place before the first page was turned or the opening credits began to roll. How many times have we been able to tell just what the character(s) would do, how they would react, what they would say, or how their lives would end up before it happened? Heck, at this rate, we should all consider ourselves horror experts or amateur psychics. Once you’ve seen one horror movie or story, you’ve seen them all, right?
In fun, and quite curious to know what others thought about this, I asked a question in my journal about horror movie clichés. What are the things you’ve noticed in movies (especially), that have you kicking yourself or wishing you could reach into the screen and knock a few heads together? Here are just a few of the answers I received.
"Who's there?" - panthera
What annoys me in horror movies is when people do stupid things! What? The light's out in the basement and there's a strange noise coming from down there? Let me go check it out on my own. Don't worry, I'll take the flashlight with the weak battery for company. I sure hope it's not that serial killer who's on the loose. That'd be embarrassing wouldn't it? - ljkam
The killer never dies! I can't stand cheesy endings where everything seems all nice and neatly tied up and then the next thing you know the character is being pulled under the bed, chased or looks in the mirror to see the the maniac standing behind them and the credits start rolling. -
We always know when the killer's about to strike, because the music swells ominously. - Lynn McKenzie
I agree with Lisa K. People can't be that dumb that often. I'd love to see a killer go after someone halfway intelligent and/or with a blackbelt in tae-kwon-do. That'd be more interesting and thrilling, to see more balanced cat-and-mouse action.
I also dislike when a movie relies entirely on the soundtrack to make the audience jump. Loud music coming from nowhere isn't horror - it's a nuisance and shows how threadbare the script and/or acting is.
It seems that horror movies are showcasing more incredibly violent scenes as well. While some on-screen actions are cringe worthy, usually the movie itself is so cheesy or unrealistic that the violence comes across as merely gratuitous. I enjoy the more old-fashioned movies where implied actions, instead of graphic ones, make me squirm uncomfortably. Our imaginations can be so strong...
It does beg one to wonder if writers in the horror genre are fresh out of ideas on how to create new tensions, scenarios and events that will boggle the mind. I must confess that horror is not an easy genre for me to write in, even though I enjoy reading them a lot. One of the many reasons I appreciate Stephen King’s works is that ‘horror’ does not really have to exist on a fantastical level, but it can happen in our everyday life and by the most ordinary people. You and me.
So my question to you fine horror readers and writers out there, just what do you look for in a great horror novel/movie?