Anatomy Of A Horror Movie
As you may have noticed, horror movies tend to follow a particular formula when it comes to characterisation and storylines, especially classic horror masterpieces and slasher flicks. Despite characters being in different scenarios, locations and being hunted by different killers, the classic horror trope will generally follow a particular notion that is sure to get audiences every time, utilising jump scares and classic movements.
This is why in practically every horror movie there is usually one big breasted bimbo running upstairs when she should be running out the door. Horror fans love the familiarity of these characters – it makes a slasher predictable, and the movie entertaining.
In this modern age, many horror movies try to turn this trope on its head, with a different breed of character or a meta series of complex twists. Others just outright make fun of the very easily predictable plotlines such as comedy horror masterpieces The Cabin In The Woods and The Final Girls. But the horror movie “rules” as the character of Randy in Scream so wonderfully points out, are usually all the same. Here are some of the character rules you can pick out every time:
The character of the slut is usually the girl who will die first, most likely after she has just had sex and we have seen her completely naked. She is the big breasted bimbo who runs upstairs and kind of sucks at defending herself, but she is the final girl’s best friend despite, usually very ditzy and is some kind of cheerleader, homecoming queen, or beauty pageant winner. Some “slut” characters will have a moment of clarity and a change of heart during the movie, and she may not always die first, but she will always die.
Characters of “The Slut” – Jules in The Cabin in the Woods, Tatum in Scream, Helen in I Know What You Did Last Summer, Valerie in Final Destination, Tina in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Bree and Chelsea in Friday the 13th, Gibb in Freddy Vs Jason, Paige in House of Wax, Brooke in Scream: The TV Show.
The character of the jock is usually an absolute jerk. He is normally rich, athletic and well-off and is usually seen trying to get with the character of the slut or is already dating her. He is usually the one having sex with her at the start, so is the character who witnesses her death and brings the news back to the waiting friends. He will come up with dumb ideas like “let’s split up!” and will die later in the film either trying to be a hero or trying to save his own skin. In some movies, The Jock will have some sort of romantic encounter with “The Final Girl” but he will never win out in the end.
Characters of “The Jock” – Kurt in The Cabin In The Woods, Trent in Friday the 13th, Glen in Nightmare on Elm Street, Barry in I Know What You Did Last Summer, Nick in House of Wax, Jake in Scream: The TV Show.
The character of the brain is usually the smartest one in the group and the one who figures out what is going on. He is usually the one who will be able to recite the background or history of the killer which will help them put all the pieces of the puzzle together at the end for the final girl. The brain is usually the one who will end up with the final girl, or the one that she has feelings for, but unfortunately their love will never last – if he doesn’t die in the first movie, he will always die in the sequel.
Character of “The Brain” – Clay in Friday the 13th, Ray in I Know What You Did Last Summer, Holden in Cabin in the Woods, Will in Freddy vs Jason, Wade in House of Wax, Kieran in Scream: The TV Show.
The fool is the horror movie’s comic relief. He is a funny, witty and down to earth guy who usually makes light of any situation and is simply out for a good time. He may be conceived as a stoner, a doofus, or a practical joker, and will generally make some sort of hilarious quip to the killer as it hones in on him. The fool will always die in the movie, and unfortunately is usually never mourned.
Character of “The Fool” – Marty in Cabin in the Woods, Chewie in Friday the 13th, Billy in Final Destination, Stuart in Scream, Dalton in House of Wax, Noah in Scream: The TV Show.
“The Final Girl”
The final girl is the one that will live to see another day. She is typically a virgin, or virginal in character, and she is usually smart, a little introverted, and usually undergoing some sort of life crisis such as the death of her mother, or having to decide which university she should attend. The Final Girl is the biggest star, and she will always defeat the evil in some sort of way – usually by lopping the killer’s head off with a machete. But everyone will doubt her sanity, and she will be pretty distraught at seeing all of her friends killed in front of her or around her. The Final Girl will live to see the sequel, as well as the third instalment.
Characters of “The Final Girl” – Nancy in Nightmare on Elm Street, Laurie in Halloween, Dana in Cabin in the Woods, Jenna and Whitney in Friday the 13th, Clear in Final Destination, Jules in I Know What You Did Last Summer, Sidney in Scream, Lori in Freddy vs Jason, Carly in House of Wax, Emma in Scream The TV Show.
“The First Death”
At the start of most slasher flicks there is usually the first kill, which takes place in the first ten minutes of the film and sets the scene for the killer, location, and reason for the original 5 characters to be afraid. The first kill is usually a blonde bimbo like the character of the slut, but she usually holds some sort of secret which is why she got killed – perhaps she bullied the killer, or she slept with someone she shouldn’t. Either way, the first death usually involves some sort of nudity and blood and sets the scene in motion.
Characters of “The First Death” – Casey in Scream, Amanda in Friday the 13th, Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy in Scary Movie, Nina in Scream: The TV Show.
And then of course, there is always the killer. This is the person with an axe to grind, quite literally, and will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. The killer has been slighted in some way and driven to the point of revenge, either by bullying, being burnt alive for reasons revealed, by anger, by someone that they love dying, or because they are somehow grossly disfigured.
If the killer is human, it is usually a character introduced at the start who you may not suspect, and could always be one of the five main characters who fake their deaths in order to reduce suspicion. If the killer is supernatural in some way like Freddy and Jason are they may be indirectly involved with the killer and will usually be pretty well-established as the villain to begin with. Who the killer is changes with each movie and it’s a guessing game to figure out who it is.
Oh, and the killer will ALWAYS return if you don’t double tap it in the head, but if the killer is supernatural there is no way they will die. They will be back to hunt the survivors in the sequel and the series soon enough.
Characters of “The Killer” – Freddy from A Nightmare on Elm Street, Jason from Friday the 13th, Ghostface from Scream, Death in Final Destination, The workers in Cabin in the Woods, Vincent in House of Wax.