Tropes are the backbone of the horror genre. The familiarity with the clichés, types, and recognizable story elements provide knowing winks. We discuss our favorites in Episode 44!
You know ’em! You love ’em! They are the old reliable moment; the jump scare you see coming… or its cousin… The FALSE jump scare that teases you. It is part of the fun of being a horror movie fan. And yes, I know we will bag on franchise horror, from time to time, but one of the reasons that we come back to movies like A Nightmare on Elm Street, or Puppetmaster, or Scream, is that we know the rules. And we want fresh takes on the rules, and see how the movie just might give a new wrinkle.
So, Mike and I set up a format where we ask each other about our favorite versions of some favorite tropes. And, in classic fashion, we took very different routes on how we were going to address each other’s questions. Eric created sets of criteria and a long list of candidates. Mike did a deeper dive on an individual film basis and identified a true favorite amongst all the offerings.
In this week’s Trope Talk! We review the following tropes:
- “It’s just a cat”. A classic jump scare. Mrrowwwrrr!!
- The Final Girl. So many to choose from!
- Favorite use of power tools in horror. (I suppose we could have included farm implements, but we still have plenty to choose from.)
- Being chased in the woods. Running probably isn’t going to help you much.
- Our favorite mask in horror. So many iconic ones to pick from. Friday the 13th? Halloween? You’re Next? Terror Train? The Strangers? Mike goes deep diving for this one.
- Best scary mirror sequence. Who knew there were SO MANY to pick from?!
- Don’t Go in the Basement! Creep-ola! A favorite hiding place for serial killers (Silence of the Lambs), ghosts (The Innkeepers), and demons (The Evil Dead). A trifecta of horror. But there is one that stands above (below?) the rest. Do you agree?
- Scary hitchhikers. This one had fewer to pick from, but Eric went the proverbial extra mile down the scary highway for this one.
After looking at our list of tropes, I figured out that Friday the 13th is built upon a foundation of horror tropes. Cat jump scare? Check! Final Girl? Big Check! Power Tools? Yep! Chased in the Woods? Yep yep. Mask? Iconic. Scary mirror sequence? Check! Perhaps no film franchise apart from maybe Scream (which addresses the notion of tropes directly) is so inextricably linked to the old warhorse clichés as Jason is.
Does that speak well or ill of horror tropes? I would say the franchise, for all its flaws, embraces what horror fans love, and has been elemental in elevating these movie memes. And I would also argue that the very best of horror films knows how to use a great trope and layer a good product on top of it, or uses the trope as critical connective tissue.