How to survive a slasher movie as a trope female character

slasher movies jamie lee curtis


Some people just don’t get slashers. Some people are looking for an intellectual, thought-provoking, abstract piece of cinematic entertainment that supplies more than a predictable bloodbath. These people are missing the point entirely…

The appeal of the slasher film lies in its simplicity. The formula works, you know what to expect, and there is a certain comforting sense of fulfilment in the familiarity of it all.

The original slasher is usually deemed to be Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Not as much killing as you’d get in the golden age of slasher movies, the 90s, but Psycho sets the central themes rolling: An insane psychotic man in a questionable outfit feeling the need to dispatch people. Other early classics are Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Black Christmas. Slasher classics like these pinpoint where the genre really starts to move away from the almost fairytale-like horror of its formative years.

Slashers really came into their own in the 80s, with Halloween and Friday The 13th [1980] setting the standard for key themes, features, characters and plot. It was around this time that the killers started to form real patterns in behaviour. My Bloody Valentine and Prom Night, both from the 80s, are worth a watch to see where the genre was going.

The 90s were the Golden Age of the slasher. The most prominent examples of the formula are: the Scream trilogy, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Cherry Falls, Urban Legend, Final Destination, and sequels/prequels of previous classics such as Child’s Play (re-named Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky), Halloween H20 and Halloween Resurrection.

The 00s saw remakes of former classics, rather than new creations: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre [2003], Prom Night [2008], Black Christmas [2006], Psycho [1999], The Hitcher [2007] and The Hills Have Eyes (2006). Unfortunately, the new millenium has also seen a move towards gorier stuff such as the Saws, and the Hostels, all featuring the kind of make-your-eyes-feel-dirty grimness which a good slasher should stop short of.

Ingredients for a slasher movie with ALL the tropes

What ingredients go into the format of a typical slasher movie? Be warned – many of its tropes will feature sexism, ableism and more.

1. Get to the point quickly: A quick first death keeps the film pacey and alive.

2. Have clear-cut gender boundaries: Men must either be jocks or geeks, nothing in between really exists. Girls must be pretty and dim (the heroine) or mouthy and tarty (usually the best friend figures, the ones who get killed in the lead up to the main characters).

3. Killers must move silently: It doesn’t matter how cumbersome the killer’s outfit and accessories are, he must be ninja-like at all times.

4. Victims must fall over at the most inconvenient times: Even if there is nothing physical to actually trip on, the sheer confusion of being chased by the murderer means people should slip over a lot.

5. Make sure the characters are thick: The killer won’t get anywhere if he can’t rely on high school kids being gullible enough to go into the woods/empty log cabins/anywhere where you probably shouldn’t go.

6. Background activity: There must be plenty of flickering lights, shutting doors and ‘wind’ noises to keep the suspense high and nerves on edge.

7. Death should never be straightforward: A simple gunshot to the head would be boring. Think garden tools, and generally anything to hand that will cause damage.

8. The killer must have superhuman senses: Whether he has mental issues or not, he must be able to sense, hear, smell and see the minutest clue as to where the victims are.

9. The killer must be known to the victims. It just isn’t in the spirit of things for the killer to be a random, nameless, faceless serial murderer. In the wisp of a plotline there must lie, somewhere, a good reason as to why someone feels their nearest and dearest need to be dispatched.

10. The killer mustn’t die: EVER! This is a golden rule. No matter how many times people fight him back, what they do it with, or how dead he may appear, a good slasher will leave open a door for a sequel, prequel, special Halloween edition… You name it. Slasher movies are destined for a movie franchise.

How to survive a slasher as a trope female character

If you are a girl and you think you might have suddenly found yourself in a slasher film, heed the following:

  • No drugs/rock n roll/parties
  • Be the main character, not a subordinate.
  • Don’t be anywhere alone, not even your own house.
  • NEVER think ‘it’s just the wind’. It never is.
  • Don’t have a boyfriend. He will most likely be the killer.
  • Don’t have too much of a personality.
  • Don’t try and hide in close proximity to the killer.
  • RUN. Don’t rely on cars as they will fail you.

Now turn the lights off, grab the munchies and watch horror films to your heart’s content. Who like romcoms anyway?