In just about every horror movie, there's a moment when somebody enters an attic, a basement, or some other dark segment of their home only to have the music turn ominous and something scary pop out at them. It's such a common trope that people yelling "Don't go in there!" has become a well worn cliche.
While it's true that going in there does not usually end well, expecting the characters know that is objectively ridiculous. They can't hear the music. They don't know know they're in a horror movie. Judging them harshly for not knowing that a masked murderer is hiding behind their Christmas decorations says more about you. You're basically calling them stupid for not living in constant irrational fear their entire lives. Furthermore, it's not like staying out of the attic would actually do anything in the long run. Movie murderers are mobile. If you don't go in the attic, it's not like they'll give up on killing you. It'll just happen in the living room or something.
Okay, so now the murderer's in the house and he's killed a couple of people. The protagonist has somehow managed to elude the killer and has now hidden herself (yes, it's always gonna be a her) somewhere small, dark and enclosed. Baffled that the protagonist has seemingly vanished into thin air, the killer turns to walk away. As he does, the protagonist accidentally does something stupid and noisy which tells the killer where she is and allows him to continue wreaking havoc on her life.
It's so easy to remain perfectly motionless when you're sitting comfortably at home or in the theatre. It would be quite a different story if you crammed into a tool shed with an axe wielding maniac walking around outside. I don't know about you guys, but last week a bee flew by me and I let out an involuntary gasp. If I were in a horror movie I'd be found out immediately thanks to the sound of me simultaneously crying, screaming, and audibly pissing myself. I'm pretty confident that I'm not alone...Well maybe on the noisy pee I am. I should probably go to a doctor...
The protagonist has managed to defy all logic and escaped being cornered in a closet by psychopath and run towards safety. They find a police officer or some other good Samaritan and recount the unbelievable story of what they suffered. The police officer responds with complete disbelief and two seconds later, they're sliced to death. If only they'd listened, they might still be alive.
Let's think about some of the most popular horror movie franchises, shall we? Nightmare On Elm Street is about a dead janitor with a claw glove murdering teenagers in their dreams, Friday The 13th has a zombie in a hockey masker for the killer, and even Halloween, a movie which was marginally rooted in reality, features a giant in a William Shatner mask with a seemingly supernatural ability to resist death. If you were to hear someone recount any of these stories as truth, you'd be concerned for sure, but less for your safety and more for their own mental well being.
Sometime towards the end of a slasher film, the protagonist defies all odds and somehow manages to incapacitate the hulking menace that's been killing all of her loved ones for the better part of an hour. From the protagonist's perspective, the killer is dead, and she's in the clear. She breathes a sigh of relief and just as she's letting her guard down, the killer manages to cheat death and everything starts up again.
I don't think I've ever made it through a single without someone saying something along the lines of "This is so stupid. Why don't they just decapitate the killer and be done with it?" While I understand that it makes sense in theory, in practice, such a response would be really disturbing. Let me put it this way: If you shoot a psychopath once in self-defense, you're probably justified. If you go on to shoot the psychopath's presumably dead body five more times, you're probably a little bit of a psychopath yourself. If, as is apparently the case with many indignant filmgoers I've encountered, your first inclination is to go find a hack saw and begin dismantling the psychopath's unconscious body "Just to be sure" then you're a terrifying human who could probably have their very own horror movie franchise some day.
You know the story: an attractive young family has just moved into their impossibly priced new house and are ready to begin their idyllic life together. Later that night, they witness a couple of creepy, supernatural occurrences, and rather than run like cowards, they decide to ignore it and stay. Before long, their walls are bleeding and their daughters been kidnapped by the ghost of a Native American whose grave their house is built on, and it all could have been avoided if only they had just moved.
Don't get me wrong, ghosts scare me as much as the next guy. You know what scares me more, though? Today's unstable real estate market. Imagine you move into your dream house only to find that it's haunted. Do you really think you'd just immediately put your home on the market and start the excruciating process house hunting anew, or do you think you'd do the rational thing and just ignore the phantom and hope that it doesn't interfere with your life in any significant way? Even if you did decide to sell, good luck finding a buyer. Nobody would want to move into a house that the previous tenants moved out of after a week. You'd never get rid of it.
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