Running upstairs to escape someone. Locking the only door to a theater during an all-night rehearsal. Pausing while running away from a slasher. These are all terrible decisions people make in horror movies.
Some bad decisions make sense - characters do dumb things when they’re under duress, just like real humans. But there are plenty of other cases where it feels like writers just got lazy and needed to off a character, so they had them walk directly into a creepy basement where the villain's hiding.
Some of your favorite horror films probably involve at least one objectively bad decision that doesn’t make logical sense. In the moment, it's easy to gloss over what are arguably scary movie plot holes, especially if the surrounding action has you gripping the edge of your seat in terror. Even when you notice characters' awful choices, it can actually make the movie more fun (if less immersive). But for the love of Wes Craven, please stop running upstairs.
One of the lazier scenes in modern horror occurs in Wolf Creek, an otherwise great film. In the movie, British backpackers Liz and Kristy are on the run from a rural Australian madman named Mick. Early on, Liz gets the jump on Mick with one of his firearms.
Instead of holding onto it while she and Kristy run off or making sure the deed is done, Liz drops it next to Mick and flees. The villain uses this break in logic to regain the upper hand and continue the chase.
Actors: Teresa Palmer, John Jarratt, Kestie Morassi, Nathan Phillips, Cassandra Magrath, + more
Directed by: Greg McLean
Kristen McKay is easily one of the most frustrating characters in horror history. After surviving an onslaught by a group of masked maniacs, Kristen makes it out of the house and into the surrounding woods.
She actually manages to find a vantage point where she has eyes on every member of the group, and while she can't fight back and her phone is long gone, she can at least rest easy knowing she's safe. That is until she goes back into the house and things go downhill.
Actors: Liv Tyler, Gemma Ward, Scott Speedman, Glenn Howerton, Laura Margolis, + more
Directed by: Bryan Bertino
Characters are constantly making bad decisions in this movie. Not only do they agree to attend a 10-year high school reunion in an abandoned building, they each fall for their own simple schemes. The easiest trap to avoid is sprung on Shirley, a woman who decides to take a bath in a gross room in an abandoned high school.
In this case, the water's been replaced with acid, which could have been avoided by not taking a bath in a creepy abandoned high school.
Actors: Caroline Munro, Billy Hartman, Gary Martin, Simon Scuddamore, Kelly Baker, + more
Directed by: George Dugdale, Peter Litten
Halfway through Child's Play, Andy's mother, Karen, realizes Chucky is evil. When she discovers he's a possessed doll, she has a brief moment where she can throw him into a fire and roast the vicious hunk of plastic until he's no more.
Instead, she just threatens to throw him in the fire, which gives the doll all the time he needs to break free of her grasp and continue his rampage.
Actors: Brad Dourif, Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Dinah Manoff, Jack Colvin, + more
Directed by: Tom Holland