What is horror? Is it simply a desire to scare and be scared, or is it something more? Is it perhaps a collection of familiar horror movie tropes that, while startling at one point in time, have become worn down by repetition? While the jump scare may be much maligned today, it appears to be one of the most fundamental building blocks of horror - that is, someone jumping out and yelling "BOO!" - but the history of the jump scare shows that even this wasn't always the case.
Though horror fans may complain about these tired patterns, all of the best horror movies use - and, on occasion, subvert - these motifs, and the scariest movie villains all get drawn from a well of overused tropes, despite sometimes being that trope's originator. A brief overview of the history of horror tropes finds that even the most groundbreaking films usually had some precedent, and sometimes familiar cliches ended up finding their origins in unlikely places.