Tonight is Halloween, and my financial imbalance dictates that instead of dressing up as something scary; like a ghost, or a vampire, or Alan Carr, I will stay in and watch crappy horror films pretending to be entertained.
Before the film has started I know exactly what to expect, and that's because 90% of all horror films (statistically this is only 60% true) have generic conventions so tightly woven into their structure that there is no room left for surprises.
In most of these flicks (14.5 out of 19 in research carried out on 6 films) the following will happen, unless it doesn't, in which case we'll pretend it did for the sake of me being right:
Stupid Teenagers Put Themselves in an Unnecessarily Stupid Situation...Stupid
We've seen it a hundred times before; a group of traditionally attractive, impossibly stupid, hormonally-charged, sex-crazed teens decide to do one of the following:
- Go to an abandoned, supposedly haunted house in order to get drunk and play 'grab boob', neglecting to tell anyone where they are.
- Go to the woods, for no obvious reason.
- Split up when shit hits the fan, because it's better to be alone and scared than in a big group capable of defending itself.
- Get hopelessly drunk and do something irreparably stupid (e.g running someone over whilst 'whooping' through the sunroof), thus incurring the wrath of an unbelievably determined psychopathic killer.
In reality, if Your best friend comes up with the following brilliant idea:
"Let's go down to Slaughterteen Woods and get messed up this weekend. We can bring some girls and play 'grab boob', it'll be awesome."
you are most likely to say:
"No fucking way, it's cold out, let's just go down to the Nags Head and get drunk there. What the hell is 'grab boob' anyway? You've mentioned that twice now"
Therefor none of the above happens, and the worst you can expect is a small scale bar-fight when your mate nicks your scampi fries.
Stupid Teenagers Get Stupider by the Second
Once it has become clear that the an axe wielding maniac is in hot pursuit of said group of teens, their actions will continue to confound you. For example:
- When the car outside is running and the escape route is clear, someone will run back into the house to get the kabala bracelet that they left inside. Predictably they will get the shit killed out of them.
- When the power has been cut (which it almost always has been), Instead of locking themselves in a bathroom until daylight, one teen will go on a mile-long trek to find the generator that is for some reason an unfeasibly long way from the house. He will also get the shit killed out of him.
- When the serial killer is lying out-cold on the floor, instead of finishing him off with an 'American History X' style foot stomp, the person standing over them will instead run away and fall into a big hole, thus ensuring the painful drawn out death of several friends. The survivors will remove this person from their facebook contacts as soon as they return to civilisation.
The Killer is Indestructible and Verging on being omniscient
After being stabbed 19 times, thrown from a fifth story window, and covered with the rubble of a crumbling abode, we assume the killer is dead. The remaining teens will embrace; relishing their survival. They will then look back at the corpse of their tormentor, only to notice that he has upped and left. presumably sickened by the predictability of it all, he has taken his knife and gone to find his agent.
Also it is worth pointing out that at all times, the killer knows exactly where all his victims are, where they are going, what their deepest fears, medical needs, and cup sizes are, and also that they have absolutely no common sense and are completely incapable of defending themselves.
There is Always a Cat
Seemingly every horror household has a cat in it somewhere. By enlarge this cat seems to live in a cupboard and is trained to jump out at people with a wry "meooow" just as things are getting tense.
The alternative theory is that all serial killers have trained cats, which they leave in strategic places around the house just to build up the fear factor.
The car that drove the teens to their location of doom is parked outside. Forty minutes ago it was running fine. It has had one careful lady owner, came with a regular service history and passed its M.O.T with flying colours.
At the moment of truth however; when the killer is hot on the trail and the car's performance is essential...fucker won't start.
This gives screenwriters the perfect opportunity to include a line like "should've bought American" (which is presumably on a post-it note attached to every American screenwriters monitor) just before our victim gets stabbed right in the eye.
You Can Run, But You Can't Run
Most people with legs are fairly capable of using them. Anyone who watched Tottenham's first eight games this season may beg to differ, but with that notable exception this is a fact.
This rule is only disproved when being pursued by a serial killer in an ill fitting mask, possibly carrying a chainsaw, or an axe, or any other heavy form of weaponry.
In this situation two things become apparent:
- No matter how fast our victim runs, the killer's casual stroll will inevitably cover more ground than them, thus giving the impression that they're running on the spot.
- The object of the killer's attention will be determined to run backwards, and into things, and over things, and possibly in circles because they have no real will to survive.
Darwin briefly covered this phenomenon in his 'Origins of Evolution' stating: "those who can run without appearing retarded may well evolve into a sequel"
Oooh It's You!
During the climax of the film, the killer's real identity will be revealed.
What's that protagonist? didn't you recognise him?
But of course! He's the guy who's parking space you once stole outside of the supermarket. He then followed you to college, where he lived next door to you for three years without you so much as saying "hello". There was also that house party where you got wasted and slept with him, giving him gonorrhea. Oh and he's your long lost brother brother. And your local librarian. And your G.P.
All becoming clear?
Sucks to be you right now.