Running upstairs to escape a killer. Locking the only door to a theater during an all-night rehearsal. Pausing while running away from a killer. 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. However, there are plenty of other cases where it feels like writers just got lazy and needed to kill off a character so they had them walk directly into a creepy basement where a killer’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).
For the love of Wes Craven, please stop running upstairs.
Kristen McKay is easily one of the most frustrating characters in horror history. After surviving a series of attacks by a group of masked killers 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
Initial Release: 2008
Directed by: Bryan Bertino
Characters are constantly making bad decisions in Slaughter High. 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 circumvented by not taking a bath in a creepy abandoned high school.
Actors: Caroline Munro, Billy Hartman, Gary Martin, Simon Scuddamore, Kelly Baker, + more
Initial Release: 1986
Directed by: George Dugdale, Peter Litten
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 killer named Mick. Early on, Liz gets the jump on Mick with one of his rifles.
Instead of holding onto the gun while she and Kristy run off, or making sure the deed is finished, Liz drops the gun next to Mick and flees. The killer uses this break in logic to get his gun back and continue the chase.
Actors: Teresa Palmer, John Jarratt, Kestie Morassi, Nathan Phillips, Cassandra Magrath, + more
Initial Release: 2005
Directed by: Greg McLean
Tatum is easily the coolest character in Scream. She's smart, funny, and she's a really good friend to Sidney throughout her ordeal. So why was she given such a terrible death scene?
While taking a trip to the garage to grab some brews, Tatum's confronted by Ghostface. She gets in some good defense, but instead of finishing him off or running back to the party to get help, she tries to crawl through the doggy door and gets stuck.
Ghostface uses this to his advantage and pulls up the electric garage door until it semi-decapitates his victim.
Actors: Drew Barrymore, Rose McGowan, Courteney Cox, Liev Schreiber, Neve Campbell, + more
Initial Release: 1996
Directed by: Wes Craven