Horror film clichés

Horror film clichés

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Five horror film clichés

Since almost the beginning of cinema, we have had scary films. Of all the genres that exist, horror is perhaps one of the most conventional. Many horror films rely on specific plot devices, also called tropes, to make their audience frightened. When a trope is used too much, it can become a cliché. But when used well, it can really make us jump out of our skin. Here are some of the most used, and perhaps abused, clichés in horror films.


No matter what kind of house it is, the basement is a scary place in horror films. That's usually where something is hiding or where the evil psychopath has hidden their tools. Basements are always dark and often damp. You can only reach them by a narrow staircase. And basements are always creepy, even when there isn't anything down there.


In older horror films, when protagonists were in desperation, it was difficult or impossible for them to call for help or call the police. Mobile phones have made that situation a bit less believable now. What's the solution to maintain suspense? No phone coverage! If you're a hero in a horror film, it's almost certain that at a key moment, just when you absolutely need to call for help, you will not have any coverage at all. Or your phone battery will die just as you are making the call. Or both.


Horror films love uninhabited places. This could be an abandoned hospital, a scary empty house or a ghost town. There's something about lonely, empty places. What was it like when people lived there? Why did they leave? Maybe it's also that they are so quiet, which can be very scary too. Of course, abandoned places are also handy for horror film directors in that it's more believable that you will have no phone coverage there either (see above).


The hero has been driving for hours. It's night-time and it's beginning to rain. Suddenly he sees a person on the side of the road. Maybe the company will keep him awake? In horror films, giving anybody a ride is asking for trouble. The hero always does it, and it always ends badly.


This horror film cliché was especially popular with horror films of the late 20th century. It starts with a group of teenagers all enjoying themselves, and it ends with everyone dead except one girl. At the beginning the girl is usually innocent, shy and not particularly strong. By the end, she has become the toughest and most resourceful person in the world. The last girl almost always wins in the end.

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Submitted by Riza on Wed, 13/01/2021 - 09:19

I am not keen on horror film. I might watch them once or twice in a month. I guess all clishes were mentioned above are all common for this genre. but I could add that in all dreadful films you might expect that someone or even the whole nation would die at the end.

Submitted by Htun Win Lin on Sun, 27/12/2020 - 05:05

This article is literally correct and I'd like to add some other banalities in horror films. A couple making out in the forest while they are camping, not knowing the danger surrounding them, unusually waking up in the middle of the night to look for the strange sound coming from the wicked basement(I mean, normal people cannot be aware of the noise and do not wake up while they are asleep, so these people in horror films might have super-hearing ability, LOL).And last but not least, staying alone in the cabin which is in the vicinity of no people nearby, why would would they do that? Literally, non-sense..
yeah, agreed, people never d wake up if then felt asleep once, it just how sleeping works

Submitted by Thomas Alva on Sun, 29/11/2020 - 10:32

This article is literally so true.I love horror movies so much and ı guess ı watched all the horror movies in the world lol.And ı want to add something when they go to basement they dont take a light with them and when they reach the basement the door closes sudddenly then they fall as they climbing the stairs back. but no matter how these become clishe ı will always love this kind.Andd ı want to suggest a good horror movie ' THE RITUAL ' watch it :) you will not regret.

Submitted by Molly on Sat, 24/10/2020 - 14:59

I like watching horror movies. While watching, you experience in some cases adrenaline.... and wonder what will happen next? and horror movies sometimes cheer you up well, sometimes you sit in suspense the whole movie and from surprise and mystery you hide in fear.... well, just amazing horror movies. Here are a few cliches from horror movies : at the most crucial moment, the car does not start; if a woman runs away from a killer, she always falls; by the final fight, the main villain suddenly becomes more clumsy
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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Fri, 02/10/2020 - 15:29

spooky!!!!!! creepy!!!!!!

Submitted by FuntimeLobita on Sun, 20/09/2020 - 12:31

Another cliché is hiding in closed or small spaces. Imagine a character from a Horror film hiding from a monster under a bed or in the wardrobe. Maybe now that you are just imagining it doesn't sounds so scary, but make sure of this: you may have ever seen a horror film with this kind of cliché and got scared, if not, you will see one.

Submitted by Acorn on Tue, 28/07/2020 - 03:30

My English teacher taught to me this every day. I have a lot of stress :(
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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Sat, 16/05/2020 - 15:19

Yes. I does. Yes. I could.

Submitted by Angel e on Thu, 09/04/2020 - 00:09

Another chiché and conventional ingredient in horror films for making people out of their skin is the music, especially piano music, e.g. when a protagonist gets involved in a curious walk aiming to find the ghost, music makes the suspense more creepy when the deformed face comes out to the scene. Most of horrors films are nowadays so predictable with lots of silly and fool protagonists, it is really difficult to watch a really creepy and horror film these days.