Fear is a commodity. That’s why the critical bomb No Good Deed handily took the box office in its opening weekend. We love to be scared, as long as it’s in the safety of a movie theater with the grip of a friend’s clammy hand and the scent of stale popcorn to remind us that we are far from danger.
Unfortunately, Hollywood often tries to sneak some seriously questionable premises past us in order to get to the thrilling and chilling parts. Even though it won’t deter us in the slightest from lining up to buy tickets to the latest Paranormal Activity, here are some of the most ridiculous tropes in the horror film genre.
Let’s Hang Out in the Middle of Nowhere
Cable, Internet, cell phones, pizza and beer. These are the five basic necessities that humans between the ages of 18 and 25 need in order to survive. No college students in their right minds would willingly give up access to any of these things for the fleeting novelties of skinny-dipping and bonfires.
No cable or Internet? What are they going to do when they get bored? Read? How will they be able to talk behind each other’s backs in the same room without texting? What if they feel too lazy to cook dinner and want delivery? What if they run out of beer? These are all important questions to consider. This situation would never happen, not in today’s culture.
In the case of “responsible” adults living in the middle of nowhere, it’s understandable that some people are just super weird and hate civilization. In 30 Days of Night, everyone in the town was crazy enough to move to Alaska. The parents in You’re Next were quite wealthy. Neighbors are for peasants. You know what, these people are just begging to be axe-murdered or eaten by zombies or what have you.
But It Has Hardwood Floors!
There’s a big difference between quaint and creepy. Unfortunately, many horror film protagonists seem to have a difficult time distinguishing between the two. Countless horror films begin with a nice, average family moving into a house that they view as a “fixer-upper”. That usually means the house is perpetually bathed in fog and adorned with dead birds. The Conjuring would never happen in real life, because normal people don’t move their families into homes their beloved dog refuses to enter.
Speaking of things sane people wouldn’t do, how about the parents who move their children into a home where they know for a fact that a family was violently murdered on the premises? Sinister tries to explain that Ethan Hawke’s character settles his family in the house where a horrifying murder took place so that he could write a book. In The Amityville Horror, George Lutz buys 112 Ocean Ave. because it was going for a bargain price. These are not valid reasons for buying a creepy house.
It’s Just a Phase
I’m sorry, but I would have sought out professional help the second I started feeling anxious about leaving my kid alone in a room with small animals or other children. The parents in The Bad Seed, The Omen and The Orphan aren’t just dismissive, they’re neglectful. Best-case scenario, their child is acting out from trauma. Worst-case scenario, they’ve got a miniature sociopathic killer on their hands.
We Should Split Up
There are five people, and one possible spooky thing or person lurking around the house. Let’s do the one thing that eliminates our chances of overpowering it with numbers! This is just about the last thing anyone in his or her right mind would suggest when confronted with a potentially dangerous situation. Even if someone did, there would absolutely be an immediate veto of that stupid suggestion.
I can shake my head at these improbable scenarios as much as I want. I still love horror films and I’ll always cherish the horrible nightmares they give me.