The Most Used (Abused) Motifs in the Horror Movie Genre


Horror movies have most frequently relied on the tried and tested ‘jump scare’ to terrify their audiences out of their skins. After all, no matter how many times you have seen someone open a medicine cabinet or refrigerator door, you still brace for the inevitable person behind when the said cabinet or refrigerator door is closed.


But beyond the ‘jump scare’, they have also relied on a wonderfully wide variety of other tropes. Some of these have yielded such spectacular results that they have become standard features that run the risk of overuse.


So here are a list of some of the most used (and abused!) motifs in the horror movie genre:


1. Dark basements in empty, rundown houses (usually accessible only via stairs that allow for the creepy hand from below to get hold of your leg!)


2. Abandoned towns (called ‘ghost towns’ for obvious reasons!)


3. Zombies (let’s just not go there)


4. Cats (less popular these days than say a few decades ago)


5. Pet killed as a warning (that you’re next!)


6. Vampires (blood never fails)


7. Unsettling clowns ("Here, take it. Take it, Georgie.")


8. Happy campers dropping dead (with only the last woman standing)


9. Dream sequences (suspension of belief taken to its extremes)


10. Desolate graveyards (so the dead may rise?)


11. Mental asylums and hospitals (that guarantee you don’t get out alive)


12. Attackers in the backseat (you really can’t rely on the door locks in these cars)


13. Cars that refuse to start just as the killer closes in (you really can’t expect these cars to even start with the turn of the ignition)


14. Inanimate objects coming to life (think dolls and TVs)


15. The Crucifix (and a myriad other religious icons)


16. Paranormal experts (who just don’t cut it)


17. Sharp blades (sometimes axes!)


18. Murderous kids (“Did I scare you, Mommy? I didn't mean to.”)


19. Killers that just don’t die (even after multiple fatal wounds)


20. ‘Based on Actual Events’ claims (guaranteed to ensure that you take the movie seriously...seriously?)

Do you have any other extremely annoying clichés that you wish they’d just put away?


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