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 Noldea on Mon, 01/08/2022 - 16:00


After seeing too much inside the darkest corners of the Internet, I am totally immune to horror films. You can say that I'm neutral with them.

Submitted by meknini on Sat, 16/07/2022 - 02:57


No! I detest and try to stay away as much as I could unless I'm coerced into complying to oblige social obligations.

What little I know abut horror flick cliches are not much but let me just jot some random events I've heard of. A man living alone is nearly always a killer, beautiful kindly lady is always someone with traumatic psychotic past, an old gnarl tree hides thousands mysteries, a windy night brings evil spirits and a sleepy town conspires to murder strangers.

Submitted by jyoti Chaudhary on Thu, 02/06/2022 - 12:21


yes, I love to see horror films. but I feel scared all the time after watching horror films at night. but I really enjoy it

Submitted by tuguu4 on Sat, 12/03/2022 - 08:52


Honestly, I think horror films are the most incurious genre in movie industry. I don't watch horror films except for Kubrick films.

Submitted by chanaphat on Thu, 04/11/2021 - 02:22


I really like it
it a great article

Submitted by krislamine on Thu, 04/11/2021 - 02:18


It a great article! I really enjoy it

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Tue, 26/10/2021 - 13:10


I'm not watching horror movies because it's very predictable and I don't like it. I like film based on true story and historical. I watch a movies in a month.

Submitted by Gabriela Saavedra on Tue, 12/10/2021 - 17:13


I used to enjoy horror films more than I do now. I stopped to see them frecuently because the plot can be unrealistic and very predictable. One or two clichés I could notice were a group of teeneagers playing satanic games, then been chased by an unnatural fource. Also there is a good looking couple, a pretty girl with glasses and ponytail that illogically makes her less pretty, the black guy, the chinesse guy and the innocet hero who ends up with the "not so pretty girl". I higly recommend suspense movies rather than horror, because they have more clever arguments and also can get us to jump out of our skin.

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Submitted by Hennadii on Mon, 05/07/2021 - 19:53

Honestly, I think horror films are the most stupid genre in the Universe because of all these cliches. You just can't take it seriously - they all look familiar from the very beginning. Especially when we talk about a group of teenagers in danger. There is always a pretty blonde girl that screams all the time. And, when she finally stops screaming, she decides to take a shower, where she will be killed (spoiler - she would be naked because she is sexy). And of course, there would be some nerd, that will because as strong as Bruce Willis at the end. If someone said - "we need to stay together" at the very next moment they all separate to make the maniac's task a bit easier. And so on, and so on. That's why I don't watch horror at all )))
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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Wed, 02/06/2021 - 14:23

I'm sometimes horrified just by the presence of a person I unexpected...! :)

Submitted by Andrea Valencia on Tue, 01/06/2021 - 21:30

Yes, I like horror movies, another cliché of horror movies is: always in the story there is a demon or evil spirit that chases the characters.

Submitted by Steven MO on Sat, 27/03/2021 - 19:46

Yes, I do. I'm a big fan of The Conjuring series. Moreover, all the clichés mentioned above are completely true. Some of them appear, as well, in The Conjuring movies. However, in some way, these movies keep you in suspense and you might even jump out of your skin more than once. I think that the third one is the most popular and as another cliché inside of it, I can say that is common that suddenly the lights are gone and surprinsingly, the character has a flashlight. But anyway, despite the clichés, some of them give you what you expect of a horror movie.

Submitted by Ehsan on Tue, 23/02/2021 - 14:24

yes, I am very interested in horror films. from these films' cliche, I can point to scary sound and music, creepy evil creatures, stay awake, uninhabited places, ruined church, the evil nun, and etc.

Submitted by Jumandi0104 on Fri, 19/02/2021 - 15:45

Do you like horror films? Can you think of any more horror film clichés? I like horror films, however due to clichés they tend to be predictable, one of these film clichés could be the fact that the music level of the background lowers, and after it there is a jump scare, this not only happens in movies but in video games.
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Submitted by Jack Milgram on Thu, 18/02/2021 - 09:02

Basements are creepy not only in horrors. And attics. And pantries. Speaking about clichés, when the spooky music sounds, it's okay. But when it stops, be ready for some screamer.
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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Wed, 13/01/2021 - 14:15

Not really. I'm chicken. ;)
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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.

Submitted by aldolotta on Sun, 22/03/2020 - 19:20

Very interesting. I remember that reading Sherlock Holmes adventures or Dracula I found so many tropes I can see now used as clichés in crime or horror movies and tv series

Submitted by heeyoungkim on Thu, 12/03/2020 - 06:19

Before opening the door, we do not know what is in there. A character clear the throat. There is no light, sounds make us nervous..
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Submitted by Steve Zarv on Tue, 14/01/2020 - 05:43

There are many clichès that revolve around the current horror films which have been being addressed since movies as Annabelle took place and became blockbusters in the field: 1.Most of the film comprises more jumpsacres. The well-developed plot is r relegated to the mistery of a previous story, story which will work for them to make a prequel and therefore have more material to grasp. 2 Since the bulk of the followers of this field lies in the young population the characters, nowadays tend to be, therefore, youngsters for them to relate (somehow) with the characters and their beliefs. I've seen currently the tendency of making this youngsters as rebel people who are going to a haunted place because they feel like it. 3.At the end of the movie or at the very beginning they catch you with the idea of it being a real based movie (even if it isn't) and if it is, it is often made up with an exaggerated depiction of the real story. Extra: Oh, not no mention a good-looking person who is there to catch audience and die during the plot.

Submitted by Praveen kumar on Sat, 05/10/2019 - 10:39

I like suspense in the horror movie.
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Submitted by Luobowawa520 on Tue, 27/08/2019 - 11:12

Almost Every-time when the characters run from the dangerous psychopath or evil always fall, trapped or injured!

Submitted by om mariam on Sat, 17/08/2019 - 23:38

I really don’t like horror movies, they don’t enjoy me and I feel uncomfortable after watching them.however I enjoy reading the article.

Submitted by Begs on Fri, 19/07/2019 - 12:52

I like horror film very much; another cliché of this type of movies is to go downstairs, because there are always stairs, at night to check on noises, which normally come from the kitchen, where the main character, holding something as a weapon, finds the back door open.

Submitted by Parul Sindhwani on Thu, 04/07/2019 - 05:29

Very interesting exercise. The cliches mentioned have existed for over several years now. Fun way to learn a few new words and ensure to read with concentration. It is also an easy way to revise abstract nouns and tenses.
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Submitted by Carlos Andrés … on Sun, 21/04/2019 - 17:27

This article has been really informative about the main features of horror movies nowadays, particularly of those films made in the United States. Before reading this article, I have identified the first cliché: the basement is the place where the scariest things happen. For me, this is silly, because, despite of the dangerousness of going down to a damp and dark place, the protagonists always go there; if I were they, I would scape from the house and, no matter what happen, I would never go down the basement!

Submitted by RobRoy on Mon, 08/04/2019 - 14:00

A bad guy in a horror movie are usually very tough and need to be killed by many different means.
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Submitted by shorena13 on Sun, 31/03/2019 - 06:24

loved the article. Thank you!
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Submitted by TracyChel on Wed, 27/03/2019 - 11:45

I really enjoy!!!