The 10 biggest horror movie clichés of all time

Horror and originality don’t generally go hand in hand. Just sayin’.
We bet you’ve spotted some (if not all) of these clichés in horror films lately. Hey, did someone say drinking game...? 

Cliché 1: The same old creepy locations. 
Mental institutions, dreary orphanages, rickety mine shafts, abandoned houses, caves – they’re all horror fodder. Think Shutter Island, The Orphanage or Descent. 

Cliché 2: Clumsy protagonists. 
Do characters ALWAYS have to trip and fall when the killer’s chasing them? Keanu Reeves’ 2015 horror movie Knock Knock is just one of many with this done-to-death scene (see what we did there?).

Cliché 3: Spooky paranormal scares. 
It’s a fact: ghosts and demons have caused many a sleepless night for fans of Paranormal Activity, Annabelle: Creation and Insidious – even if such films rely on the same-old, same-old TV static, flickering lights and unexplained noises!

Cliché 4: Bathroom terror. 
Psycho’s stabbing scene is up there as the scariest shower kill ever (even though you don’t see much) and since then movie-makers have gone nuts for the naked-and-vulnerable shower or bath scene. Spot it in The Grudge, Arachnophobia or IT.

Cliché 5: Cheap scares. 
Quiet background music suddenly turns shrieky. Someone jumps out. The character closes the bathroom mirror and there’s someone standing behind you, reflected in it (the American Werewolf in London scene scared the pants off us!)

Cliché 6: The dark basements
There’s always a spooky basement with a cement floor, dark corners and a crappy light that fails at an inopportune moment; The Conjuring, Signs, Don’t Breathe and Silence of the Lambs all fit the category. Don’t get us started on attics. 

Cliché 7: Recovered footage. 
Scary footage, shaky cam style, remains an ever-popular horror trope. Just a few films that employ this device include The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, Cloverfield and Quarantine. Done well, we admit it can be pretty spine-chilling.

Cliché 8: Just when you think the killer’s dead… 
They rise up. From the lake, the cupboard, the backseat of the car, or, er, the bathtub (a la Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction). 

Cliché 9: Deadly technology. 
If you treat your phone like an extra limb you know that the struggle (to leave it in your bag or at home occasionally), is real. But even the most hardcore phone addicts roll their eyes at phones that have the power to kill (hello, One Missed Call). Can’t you just turn it off or go to a low signal area? Ditto movies which feature deadly webcams, computers, TVs, elevators…

Cliché 10: Everybody’s already dead. 
This one’s a bit of a tease. The characters are usually very troubled by something or worried that the house they’re in is haunted… but surprise surprise, it’s the characters who are doing the haunting. Because they’re already dead. The Others and The Sixth Sense are just two relying on this old chestnut. 

Source: Barry Mendel Productions

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