A trope is a reoccurring cultural pattern in a body of creative works. In the case of horror, a trope is somewhere in between a subgenre and iconography. Tropes become telling, in that they hint at universal fears and anxieties that bind humans on a primal level. There are hundreds of recognizable horror tropes, but the primary examples say the most about what horror is and why we watch it.
The academic minds at CineFix have assembled a video that’s as entertaining as it is illuminating: Top 5 Horror Tropes of All Time. Once identified, these tropes become integral to the foundation of our beloved genre and will enhance your understanding of elements that combine all works of provocative cinema.
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Have a watch and let us know what you think in the Comments section. If you can’t stream, each trope is listed and briefly summarized below the video, along with examples. What are your favorite horror movies tropes? Let’s discuss!
Official Synopsis: Put down your costume making kit for a few minutes and join us as we dive into what makes horror films tick. Of all the tropes that scary movies employ, these are the 5 best!
Haunted House with a History: While many horror movies are intrinsically tied to a specific geography, the haunted house trope is a pillar of the genre. It represents lingering trauma and how past history can influence our perceptions of people and places. Obviously, the trope is prevalent in films like The Amityville Horror, The Changeling, and Poltergeist.
Man is the Scariest Monster of All: We’ve seen this trope play out in films like Alien, Blue Velvet, Antichrist, and 10 Cloverfield Lane. Sure, we all fear ghosts and vampires, but nothing is scarier than man’s inhumanity to man.
The Final Girl: The Final Girl has become a key component of the slasher subgenre; she epitomizes survival at any cost, and the audiences’ bond with her is critical to a horror movie’s success. While many agree the final girl trope is empowering, it remains controversial and debated to this day.
The “Or Is It?” Ending: It’s kind of like a twist, but subtler; the dead killer opens his eyes (Freddy vs Jason) is the most obvious example, but it’s anything that creates an air of ambiguity. While the “Or Is It” Ending leaves the door opened for a sequel, it does not require one.
The Jump Scares: From Psycho to Insidious, jump scares get our blood pumping and provide the excitement that keeps fans coming back for more. Being scared is fun!
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