Horror film clichés

Horror film clichés

Read an article about horror film clichés to practise and improve your reading skills.


Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and do the exercises.

Reading text

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.


Worksheet60.86 KB

Language level


Average: 4.7 (17 votes)
Do you need to improve your English reading skills?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are improving their English reading skills with our online courses.

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.

Profile picture for user Hennadii

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 )))
Profile picture for user Rafaela1

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 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.