With horror movies, viewers expect certain tropes, such as The Masked Killer, The Haunted House, and The Last Girl. But some films are intelligently marketed as one thing when they really are, which ensures a big surprise to audiences.
In fact, some of the best horror movies are the ones that can completely surprise viewers and give them something different than they expected. While some horror movies play it safe and follow audience expectations, others subtly satirize them or subvert them altogether.
ten Don’t breathe 2 (2021)
The original Don’t breathe already turned the tide on the public, with domestic invaders becoming the victims. Don’t breathe 2 ran with this idea to surprise viewers and no one could have predicted where the movie would go.
While this sequel certainly divided and made some unusual narrative choices, it certainly didn’t fail to surprise its audience. Fans couldn’t have predicted that the villain of the first film would become the questionable protagonist of the second. Taking someone as despicable as The Blind and trying to get audiences to like him may have been a problematic choice, but this movie certainly wasn’t what audiences expected.
9 Hereditary (2018)
Hereditary appears to be a movie about a disturbed young girl, Charlie, who seems to be following in her grandmother’s footsteps. However, halfway through, one of the most shocking deaths in horror movies occurs and completely changes the narrative.
Attention is shifted from Charlie to his older brother, and the whole family begins to experience sinister and supernatural events. While marketing suggested that Charlie was the center of interest and even the main threat in the film, this is far from the case. In fact, the film uses the theme of the occult to focus on its themes of grief and tragedy.
8 Funny games (2007)
Funny games focuses on a family that finds itself targeted by two unbalanced men who never hesitate to push the limits.
At one point in the film, one of the characters breaks the fourth wall and uses a remote control to rewind the scene he’s a part of. The timing is unexpected and bizarre, and seems unfair to the protagonists, as the villains have an unbeatable advantage. Death near the end of the film proves that no one is safe, and the unexpected rupture of the Fourth Wall is enough to leave viewers shocked and unsettled.
7 Scream (1996)
Scream has grown into a huge horror franchise, with a fifth film currently in the works. However, at the time when the first Scream came out, he completely took the audience by surprise.
Unlike the usual horror-stricken teenagers, the characters in Scream were very aware of horror tropes and the genre as a whole. One way the movie cleverly subverts viewers’ expectations is by setting up the last girl in the first scene and then quickly killing her. Screams marketing put Drew Barrymore in the lead, his face even appearing on posters, so it was shocking to see his character killed in the first few minutes.
6 You are the next (2011)
You are next has a premise like many other horror movies with its masked killers and clear setup of the last girl from the get-go. Erin accompanies her boyfriend to a family reunion, only for the masked assailants to start taking them out one by one.
In a surprising twist for the slasher subgenre, however, the attackers get a lot more than they bargained for when they meet Erin. Unlike many other Final Girls, who survive by sheer luck or newfound bravery, Erin uses the skills she learned from being raised in a survival complex to take out her abusers in a brutal way. Even the name of this film is a clever deception: at first, “You’re Next” seems to refer to the victims, but it quickly becomes clear that the title actually refers to Erin’s expert expedition of the masked attackers.
5 Orphan (2009)
Trailers and premises for Orphan makes it seem like a horror movie fans have seen a thousand times already: a new child is terrorizing their unsuspecting family. While the film follows this narrative, it quickly becomes apparent that Esther is more than a troubled or possessed child, as you would expect with such films.
Esther turns on her adoptive mother and tries to push her out of the family in order to be closer to her adoptive father. His motives become clear soon enough, but his true intentions aren’t revealed until later. Her obsession with her adoptive father sets her apart from other “evil children” of the genre. In fact, by the time the movie ends, Esther’s overconfident traits start to take on their full meaning, making it one of the best horror movies ever to see. Dark castle entertainment.
4 He Follows (2014)
The premise of It follows sounds so weird and ridiculous that it feels like it should be a horror comedy or a low budget dud. That being said, the film is surprisingly dark and utterly scary bright.
The film focuses on a sexually transmitted curse that leaves the afflicted followed and stalked by a shape-shifting entity who swears to kill them. The film expertly uses one of the weirdest curses in horror movies to create a sense of dread and paranoia. What appears to be another horror stream at first glance, is quickly becoming a classic that will leave viewers constantly checking behind them once it’s over.
3 Lake Eden (2008)
lake of eden focuses on a couple whose getaway turns into a nightmare when they encounter a bunch of unhinged teens. The film is brutal, heartbreaking, and unafraid to push the boundaries.
The emphasis on camping and young characters is common in the horror genre, but lake of eden switches the usual story around. Many horror movies focus on teenagers who are then chased by a killer, but here it’s the teenagers themselves who serve as the antagonists. Where horror fans might have expected Michael Fassbender to be the slasher slasher stalking teenagers, this film does the exact opposite and provides a grim commentary on youth and anti-social behavior.
2 Cabin in the Woods (2011)
The cabin in the woods had deliberately deceptive marketing, meaning viewers expected a standard horror movie about young people visiting a cabin in the woods. However, the film uses tropes of the genre and subtly pokes fun at them. Technicians are shown to control events in the cabin, forcing the characters to make silly but horror movie-typical decisions, such as going their separate ways or going down to the basement.
The events of the film are so manipulated that the main characters are transformed into horror archetypes, with athletic but intelligent Curt becoming a stereotypical jock and special hair dye transforming brunette Jules into blonde. The film pays homage to many other horror films, such as Evil Dead, Hellraiser and The Stforest guards, with the wide range of classic monsters and villains featured in the final act. The Cabin in the woods subverts viewer expectations by taking tropes and popular horror monsters and being mindful of their inclusion in the film.
1 The Descent (2005)
Monster movies are another part of the horror genre, and on the surface that’s exactly what Lowering seems to be. The film focuses on a group of women who explore caves, but get more than they bargained for when they stumble upon the habitat of vicious, carnivorous creatures.
The marketing and general premise make this a typical monster movie, but it’s a lot more complex and psychological than it first appears. The Crawlers may be the movie’s main threat, but they’re more of the backdrop to the claustrophobia and psychological breakdown Sarah experiences throughout the movie. As viewers follow this movie, some of the characters actually become villains, as they turn on each other (and themselves) during their fight for survival.
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