Oh, the suspense… or lack thereof

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Trevor Cleveland, opinions writer

Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers and Hannibal Lecter are all horror movie characters designed to deliver thrill and expected scares to their audiences. Nothing got the heart pumping more than when Kayako Saeki (the monster from The Grudge (2004) chased Karen Davis (the main protagonist) through a Japanese hospital. Or when Samara Moran first crawled out of a television screen in The Ring. However, these days, every horror movie is just a boring old snore fest where people buy a house or go to distant location and get chased by terrifying monsters.

One of the best examples is the recent summer release of The Purge (2013), a movie which depicts a future in which anything is legal once a year for 12 hours. Imagine all the possible directions that movie could have gone. However, with much disappointment, The Purge instead delivers the classic “home-invasion” scenario, which has been done plenty of times before. Where’s the originality in that? If crime was legal, medical professionals could conduct experiments that were previously illegal, and hackers could rob civilians of millions of dollars.
With almost every horror movie, there’s a set plot it’s destined to follow. First, the main characters are introduced and placed in an area where everything seems under control, such as in the movie Shutter Island (2010) where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character investigates the disappearance of a prisoner. Nothing out of the ordinary. Then, way out in left field, everything goes crazy. The main characters find themselves on the run from whatever created the chaos. While that does seem to be an interesting concept, the horror industry has been bathing in their own clichés these days.

Movies such as The Purge and You’re Next (2011) (family goes on a retreat and then picked off and killed by psychopaths in animal masks) project  their antagonists to be aware of this destined plot line, and have them calling the chasing and killing of the main character(s) “hunts”.

Almost any horror movie around follows this set routine, including one of the best-selling horror movies of all time The Sixth Sense, at the box-office with $293.5 million. The same goes for the second best-selling horror movie The Exorcist (1973) raking in $239.9, proving the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But there’s something wrong with a system that lacks originality and practically puts its audience to sleep with boring plots. I’d much rather see plots that genuinely scare me, plots that make me think about the more horrible things in life, plots that don’t involve people invading my home for some weak-plot-hole reason. Let’s put true horror back in horror movies.