Some horror tropes are tried and tested within the genre. Even if you don’t like them, generally they produce the desired effect. Others seem to be pushed into horror just because it’s the done thing to do, whether it’s irritating to audiences or not.
Here are the tropes I find the most irritating in the genre. Please never use these. Please.
(This blog post is definitely not really not a way for me to rant)
1. The Stupid Protagonist
Oh no, are you left alone in a haunted house when you happen to hear slamming behind that one door you’ve been WARNED not to touch? Better open it, what’s the worst that could happen?
Nothing pulls me out of a story faster than a character that makes stupid decision after stupid decision. There seems to be a lot of this in modern slasher films – running upstairs when locked in the house with a murderer, ignoring instructions, splitting up a group. It’s frustrating.
I desperately want to see smart, strong characters. Stupid decisions are human, that’s fine, but just a bit of common sense would be fantastic.
2. What happened to the electronics?
Trapped in a basement with a killer clown? Don’t bother calling anyone, there’s no signal down there! Chased into your car by aliens? Nope, that car isn’t going to start now.
Does becoming a monster in a horror story suddenly grant you electronic destruction abilities? It can increase the tension sometimes, it can even be great. I’d love to see a story involving a camera being the only way to stay safe from a ghost. The battery slowly draining would propel the story onwards. Having something stop working suddenly, just for the “tension” seems over done and a little eye-roll worthy.
3. The death of the animal companion
Please leave the dogs alone.
What did they ever do to you?
4. It was a dark and stormy night
Not such a bad trope really, but over used. The setting has almost become a parody of itself, making things seem melodramatic. You don’t need a stormy night to make your setting spooky! And don’t use mist either. Make the sun terrifying! Use snow, hail, or ignore weather altogether.
Just leave the storms to Dr Frankenstein.
5. The sequel set up
This is it. The protagonist has finally defeated the monster. A slow pan out and… Oh no. The monster is alive. And the protagonist is pregnant with a demon child. While a photograph darkens ominously in the back ground.
I love a good horror series, but a film or a novel should be able to stand alone. Adding an obvious cliffhanger to the end can be frustrating. The audience or reader has put in a lot of time to your story. They deserve a satisfying ending.
What horror tropes do you hate? Let me know in the comments !