The New Rules of Horror
Generally speaking, we used to have certain social mores in the West that manifested themselves in films as morality lessons.
The virginal teen queen survived butchering while her horny friends became sliced and diced. In those days, libido was a death sentence with no conjugal visits.
Characters, as spoofed in the Scream franchise, who ominously stated they would be right back from an errand, are killed off before they can return with beer or pizza.
And since Psycho (1960 of course), characters are unable to bathe or shower without becoming lunchmeat.
In recent times, premarital sex and cohabitation have become accepted in society at large, and women have become more empowered, leading to a decrease in the rape-revenge survival horror subgenre. We see more movies with female villainy, such as France’s ‘Haute Tension’.
Therefore, because of the facts evidenced above, we need new rules to reflect cinematic modernity.
These are The New Rules of Horror.
1. If you hear Muse, run for your life or hide (Danny Boyle movies). Muse is good for showing supreme isolation, but is also good music for zombies to chase you to. Most recently, it was heard in the film World War Z.
2. Have all the sex you want, but don't become pregnant. (This has come around from the obvious Omen franchise, but has updated itself in movies such as The Eye II and À l'intérieur (»Inside»)). You should probably not bother adopting either (‘Orphan’ had a terrifying twist).
3. If you are a fan of Asian horror, you have already realized that every domicile in Japan is extremely haunted, so do not ever move there. Don't even visit. Probably not Korea either.
4. Your cell phone won't get reception when your car is broken down in the Ozarks, so make sure your vehicle has GPS. It will be one time that you are glad Big Brother is watching.
5. If you survive your first encounter with the monster/event/ghost, you will probably die in the second (The Grudge, Hills Have Eyes, Final Destination).
6. Don't get a unique tattoo or piercing. It will be used as a visual device to make sure your friends know you were eaten by/torn apart by the monster/ghost/event.
7. Unlike the 80s and a lot of the 90s, if you are part of a happy couple, at least one of the two of you is not making it out alive. It’s advisable to give your partner candy bars and start your running regimen now. Remember the old adage about not needing to be extremely fit – you just need to outrun your friends.
8. If you are behind the camera filming your terrifying ordeal, you almost guarantee you will make it as long or longer than any of your friends (Blair Witch Project, [Rec], Cloverfield, Diary of the Dead). You are more likely to remain calm when your reality is filtered through the camera, and this helps when you are running from things that want to kill you. But you’ll still die.
9. Look out for environmental damage, toxic spills, and climate catastrophes around you. These will mutant animals and other humans into objects that thirst for carnage. Your carnage.
10. If you ever hear of a pharmaceutical company that wants to experiment with age-defying skin treatments or find a controversial cure for memory loss, alert consumer watchdog Ralph Nader right away.
One horror movie trope that still remains alive and well? If you see a flock of birds or herd of mammals traveling in one direction, follow them!
A protag’s safety cannot be guaranteed by following these New Rules, but at least now you will have a fighting chance.