Let’s not pretend for a second that most horror movie characters function past the same depth and motivation as your average porn movie repair man. Everything is a set up to get to the main course, which in this case is terrible bodily harm.
All of that said, some characters do tend to be much stupider than others – or at least dip into an insane moment of stupidity from time to time. After all, how are they going to get killed in that abandoned house without at some point thinking it’s a good idea to enter it?
Let’s all run up the stairs together:
8. Sidney Goes Back To The House in Scream
Here’s the rule: you can’t be a meta-horror film, or mock slasher horror, if your writing doesn’t show some kind of awareness beyond that genre. Don’t get me wrong, Scream was a big part of my teenage years – but then I saw Cabin In The Woods and thought, “Oh – so THIS is what a horror satire is supposed to be!”
Sidney is supposed to be the smartest in the room, and yet when she runs from the house party at the end and almost kills Gale by waving in the middle of the road, she’s casually walking back to the house the next time we see her… for like… no reason. She ran away! Why isn’t she booking it down the road to find a phone?
I’ll tell you why, because the movie would have ended.
7. Claire Investigates A Basement Noise in The Innkeepers
Director Ti West, having also done The House Of The Devil, has both the keen talent and horrible flaw of having his movies inch into suspense. Purely from a horror standpoint I think it’s amazing and should be done more. Unfortunately from a writing standpoint his characters simply aren’t interesting enough to get away with it.
Claire is the boring lead character for The Innkeepers, and when the third act of this film finally gets going she finds herself moments away from leaving the hotel. Sitting on a couch, having just seen a man dead in a bathtub and several ghostly images, she waits there for her co-worker to run upstairs. Then she hears a noise from the basement, and despite being near traumatized decides to go check that out. It doesn’t go great.
6. Micah Is Generally Terrible in Paranormal Activity
Oh, Micah. You lovable fool, you. Micah should get his own ghost hunting TV show were he walks around abandoned insane asylums screaming “Pussies!” at rusted electroconvulsive therapy equipment before heading over to the hospital graveyard and eating all the flowers.
Upon learning of a demon in his house, capturing evidence of it, and watching his wife fall apart, his gut response is to burn a cross and yell names – which we all know totally solves any problem.
5. The Scientists Turn Into Stoners in Prometheus
Let’s start with not allowing hipsters in space. Second, when you’re alone in an alien tomb and lost – it’s not the best time to light one up, even if it’s technically a special space weed reservoir. Also, why do you have a space weed reservoir? Why are you even a character? Finally, how terribly was your high harshed when your face was melted off?
And that’s just one of these guys. The second one, apparently a biologist, tries to touch what is clearly the outer space version of a cobra. Look, Prometheus – I’ve said it before – I really enjoy you… but there were a lot easier ways to kill these characters without suddenly turning your space ship into Camp Crystal Lake.