Horror movies are a copycat industry. You get a guy in a mask hunting down babysitters and next thing you know, there are a million guys in masks hunting down seemingly every babysitter in America.
But, that's movies, right? You get one thing that works and you keep going until it stops (or three movies after it stops, then Hollywood stops).
However, here are some movie trends that need to cut it out!
1. "Based on a true story"
O really? This story about possessed people running rampant in New York is "Based on a true story", Deliver Us From Evil??? Did we all some how miss that?
Or The Conjuring, where everyone has come out and said Ed and Lorraine Warren (the people who "investigated" the paranormal activities) were full of hooey (pardon my language). The events did not happen so please do not say it is based on a true story. That'd be like a character in Godzilla being named Dan French. And since I am a real person, the movie is based on a true story.
You know what horror movies don't need? To be based on a true story to be scary.
I know there are no guys in hockey masks waiting for me in the woods. But I still get scared as if there was one. Why? Because they're scary.
They've established that via a lot of movies that scare me. The way it should be done.
2. Trailers showing an audience being scared.
Speaking of things that don't entice me to watch your movie is watching other people watch your movie.
Lately there has been a rash of trailers showing infrared cameras pointing at some random theater audience. They are supposedly watching the movie being advertised. And boy o boy are they scared. They're jumping and hiding behind their popcorn buckets.
What are we doing? Watching them. We're not watching anything particularly scary (unless you're racist against people on infrared cameras). That does not make me want to see the movie.
O sure, those people are scared at what we believe is your movie, but that does not mean I'll be scared or unnerved by what's on the moving picture screen.
In fact, since I have not seen anything particularly interesting, I assume your movie does not offer anything interesting.
3. Found Footage
I do love a lot of Found Footage movies: Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield come to mind.
You know what I'm over?
Found footage movies. It is just becoming less and less appropriate for people to have their camera going while in the face of certain danger.
We, as the viewing audience, are able to buy it once and a while; however, there is less of a reason for someone to be holding the camera up while entering a shed that we all know is full of not good things. We're not expecting MENSA members in our horror movies, but a touch of intelligence would be cool.
I think this trend might be on the way out and I say good riddance.
4. Ghosts/Haunted anything
Lately there have been a slew of haunted house/ghost movies. It's time for them to wrap it up.
Sure ghost stories are scary. You bend the laws of the world to allow for a hand to grab someone, have the door fly open, or have a SCARY FACE COME OUT OF NO WHERE. Sure, it scares you. Maybe my typing in caps scared you because it came out of no where. The point is, it does not take much effort to bend the rules of everything to allow for something to jump out on screen.
And that's why ghost movies or movies about haunted anything are dumb. There's no effort put into anything. You make up the rules as you go.
"I want a clown to jump out of the mirror." OK, I'll put it in.
"I want a person to have red eyes and speak in a demonic voice." Well, what about the clown? But sure, it's in.
"Now the floor opens up and snakes come up and eat people." What? We already have possessed people and clowns...
"And then they need to go to the attic where there's a zombie with teeth for eyes and doll hands!"... I quit
5. Scary Dolls
I know, this kind of fits in the "no haunted everything" above.
I just wanted to take some time to make sure this stops yesterday.
Stop with the scary looking dolls.
If you must (and you shouldn't) make it a normal looking toy. No one wants scary dolls. If I saw most of these, I would throw it out and I live in a world where ghosts don't exist. But they're unsettling. It's a cheap way to make us scared.
Knock it off.
6. Speaking of toys, let's stop with games all together
I'm looking at you, Ouija.
We're better than this, and I need you to stop.
7. Evil People Having a Stupid Motive
I love Scream. Love it. Sure there are better and scarier, but that movie came out at the perfect time for me. I have since been trying to know as much about movies as possible ever since.
It did, however, continue a trend that I absolutely hate. The killer(s) (spoiler on a movie that came out in 1996) motive to commit a whole bunch of murders was pretty dumb. He/she brings up the point in the movie that it's scarier in movies when killers don't have a motive (Norman Bates and Hannibal Lecter being the examples).
And the ironic part is that she/he is right!
It's scarier when there is no motive.
What's un-scary? A terrible motive. Movies shoehorn these random conversations about a character's past that clearly was done to provide the flimsy motive.
"Hey, this doesn't fit the natural flow of any conversation, but your group of friends who are being hunted by a masked killer used to be super mean to my sister and she killed herself because of it... hey, you wanna go to that abandoned shed with me?"
8. The Guarantee Jump Scare At The End
Just let the movie end.
We don't need something/someone to jump out and scare us before we leave.
One of my favorite recent horror movies was The Strangers. It was simple and scary. It was almost outstanding. But it ended with the incredibly dumb jump scare.
When I watch it now, I stop with 2 seconds to go.
There's just no need.
You have 90 minutes to scare us. Set the scene and execute (pun intended) accordingly. You should have done your job better so that you don't need to make something cheaply scare us at the very end. My Aunt Theresa can tell a thirty second story and then scream in my face at the end of it and I'll be scared. That doesn't make her story any good.
This isn't to say that cliff hangers or shocking reveals aren't welcome. But don't end with a dumb jump-scare. It's a lazy way to make us leave thinking it was scarier than the movie was.
That's all I've got. I don't mind bad acting, terrible effects, or mediocre story structure.
Horror movies are allowed to be B-movies. I'm willing to give horror movies a lot of slack. I'm just looking for some cool monster/bad people, creative twists, and some solid scares.
They don't need to be high-brow.
But that does not mean they can be dumb.
Have some self-respect, horror movies.