by David Christopher Bell
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.
4. Activists Open An Infected Monkey Cage in 28 Days Later
Of course it would be animal activists that end up killing us all. That said, they did… technically do the animal kingdom a favor by taking their number one threat down a peg or two.
If someone tells you not to open a cage with an infected monkey in it, and you open the case with the infected monkey in it anyway… you deserve whatever that infected monkey does to you. It’s just math.
3. Louis Never Learns From His Mistakes in Pet Sematary
Lesson number one to any horror film is that if a dead guy is adamantly warning you against something you should probably listen. In fact, as a blanket rule: always listen to the dead guy because he probably has something interesting to say.
Beyond that, I understand Louis burying his kid in the cemetery even though the cat came back a soulless and violent shell of itself because that’s how most cats act anyway. But after that it doesn’t really matter how fresh the corpse is or how bereaved you are – you gotta stop burying people in the cursed cemetery. And yet after his kid goes evil, he tries it again with his wife and gets his ass stabbed.
Resurrect a loved one as a demon shell once, shame on them. Resurrect a loved one as a demon shell twice, shame on you.
2. Darry Convinces Trish To Go Back in Jeepers Creepers
It’s almost painfully difficult to give a shit about a character’s well-being when not ten minutes into the film they encounter a giant man dumping a sheet-wrapped body into a pipe before running them off the road and then somehow decide that they should go back and investigate in case that obviously dead person is still alive. It’s even worse when those characters are two teenagers completely ill-equipped to handle themselves, and they earn extra points if the smarter one completely maps out the obvious next step of finding a phone and is then convinced to do the opposite.
And yet, this is what Jeepers Creepers thinks will sell us their plot, because apparently the writers think we’re as stupid as Darry.
1. Deputy U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko Forgets How To Be A Cop in Whiteout
There might be some debate as to whether this counts as a terrible horror film; it could simply be regarded as a terrible action thriller. The situation, however, is classic slasher when a masked guy with a pickaxe starts murdering people on a deserted station in Antarctica. Kate Beckinsale’s character – an experienced U.S. Marshal from Miami – is left to take down this madman.
How, you might ask, does she do this? By running away like a 16-year-old horror movie babysitter. Seriously, the film follows a U.S. Fucking Marshal as she spends half the film running and frantically closing doors on an imposing guy with an axe – even though she has a goddamn gun. After the first time she runs away like a Muppet you’re pretty much counting the minutes until she will hopefully die. That time never comes.
And what are your favorite walking boners of the horror genre? Do tell.