My Cardinal Rules of Horror

This list is subject to updates as I continue to watch disappointing movies.

1) When the monster is revealed it stops being scary.

This does not apply to movies where the Very Bad Thing is a human or human-like entity (i.e. zombie). It does very much apply to the elephant-centipede-moose from THE RITUAL (2017). There are definite exceptions to this rule (ALIEN) but it’s amazing how often a movie that has otherwise had me at the edge of my seat suddenly gets boring when the ghouls and beasties turn up.

2) A Very Dark Screen does not = Terror. It just means I can’t see what’s going on.

I’m looking at you, The Hole in the Ground (2019).

3) There is a maximum amount of screaming and it’s less than you think.

IN THE TALL GRASS (2019) gave me a headache I can still feel. Find some other way to channel the terror.

4) No matter how good the movie is, a misleading title can ruin it.

There’s a big difference between a supernatural thriller and a blood-and-guts slasher. I like them all, but not all the time. I want to know what type of movie I’m about to watch without having to find out the plot in advance. Therefore, the title needs to give information.

OCULUS (2013) as a title tells me nothing about genre or story. It’s thematically related but you won’t know that until you watch it. The fancy title implies it’s going to be an arty scare, when in reality it’s a trippy gore-fest. THE VOID (2016) has a related problem. The “void” of the title is like the seventh scary thing to happen in that movie and it happens at the end. Plus the word “void” is really generic and makes me think of outer space. THE VOID is not about outer space.

On the other hand, see IT COMES AT NIGHT (2017) for the most stellar exception to this rule I have ever encountered.

5) Puppets and practical effects are always better than CGI. No exceptions.

Well…very few exceptions.

6) Every horror movie has a moral. REALLY no exceptions.


7) Thou Shalt Not Film:
  • “Please Kill Me” scenes
  • Attractive dead women
  • Movies with one or less female characters
  • “Likable” psychotic murderers
  • Entire scenes in CGI

Are there rules I should add to this list? Comment and let me know! I will seriously consider your opinion and then do whatever I want.

Published by Brandy N. Carie

Playwright. Director. Producer. Feminist Takes on Horror Films.

4 thoughts on “My Cardinal Rules of Horror

      1. I am thinking that, it’s been done too much. “Based on actual events” should heretofore only be used for remakes because it’s based on the actual events of that movie having been made before.

        Liked by 1 person

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