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How to Survive a Horror Movie

By Avery Benbow

Scream. Halloween. Get Out. The Blair Witch Project. Silence of the Lambs. Cabin in the Woods. Friday the Thirteenth. Poltergeist. A Nightmare on Elm Street. The Shining. Pet Cemetery. Misery. Midsommar. It. Aliens. Jaws. A Quiet Place. Psycho. Come Play. The Nun.

What does this list of movies have in common? Horror. There are many different shapes and forms: thrillers, slashers, paranormal, comedic, psychological, etc. But, the basic gist is that the people in it are fighting for survival, and the odds aren’t in their favour. Not ideal, right?

Well, luckily for you, I (as an American) am very familiar with this genre. As a result, I’ve picked up on some running themes involved in outsmarting and surviving the events of a horror movie. So, for the benefit of your survival (you’re welcome), I’ve decided to compile them into a list of rules, in case you ever find yourself in that sort of situation:

1. Be moral: I know this seems obvious, but if you take one thing away from this list, let it be this rule of sticking to traditional ideals of morality and innocence. It may seem strange, seeing as the genre is horror, but surviving means no bullying, no parties, no substance abuse, no kissing, cuddling, Netflix and chill, whatever you want to call it.

If you want to live, it’s NOT ON, and a single pringle staying at home is pretty much the safest you can be (added bonus to my average Saturday night). Remember, even horror movies are trying to deliver a moral message.

2. Never say, “I’ll be right back”: This is the horror movie equivalent of standing in the middle of an open field during a game of hide and seek and yelling “I’m right here!” while expecting not to get caught. It’s practically inviting death and tempting fate because you won’t be back, so just don’t say it!

3. LISTEN TO THE KIDS: We all know the drill, the kid says, “There’s a scary man in my closet” or “Someone’s staring at us from across the street,” the older person dismisses them, and guess who’s right? The kid. This plays into the aforementioned idea of the value of innocence, as children are more open to the actual happenings of the world than older people with preconceived ideas of what can or cannot occur. So, if they see/hear something suspicious, trust them!

4. Never investigate a “weird noise”: I think this is a bit of a no-brainer, but leaving perfect safety and bringing yourself closer to likely fatal danger is just idiotic. If there is a weird noise, either stay where you are (warily) or run AWAY from it.

5. Always heed the warnings of old people or strangers: Don’t laugh it off or call them crazy - anyone who goes out of their way to tell you to get out knows what they’re talking about.

6. Don’t split up! Ever!: Possibly the most well-known horror-movie survival tactic, and yet still people don’t do it. Just stick together- it’s harder to sneak up on you and you won’t have trouble looking for each other later- it just makes sense all around.

7. Don’t play pranks on people: Usually, the jokester doesn’t make it to the end of the movie, if you get what I’m saying. Again, ideas of morality reign supreme, so don’t ask for trouble.

8. Don’t watch a scary movie on Halloween: This is practically begging someone to sneak up on you or cut the power right as you get to the creepy climax of the movie. Just have a Christmas movie marathon instead of a Scream one, there’s no shame in switching things up.

9. If you’re running, KEEP RUNNING: The number of times the character has a head start and then TURNS AROUND to see if they’re safe (surprise, surprise, they’re not) is just infuriating. If you have a lead, just take it, because chances are that a supernatural killer has superspeed, so keep moving.

10. If someone around you starts to be the only survivor, stay FAR away from them: Look, it’s all well and good to be valiant, but do you want to just end up in a body bag? If normal horror movie rules apply to this scenario, the person who starts to emerge as the consistent survivor will be fine (assuming they’re the main character)- but you, decidedly won’t be (if you stick around). So just back off quickly as if your life depends on it (because it does). You can always catch up in a few days.

11. Don’t look for someone who has gone missing: I hate to break it to you, but they’re gone. If they’re still out there, they’ll pull you into some hidden chamber or something, but don’t bother looking for them, you’ll just end up in a trap.

12. If you find the killer’s lair, LEAVE ASAP: If you end up in the killer’s lair, don’t stick around for a cuppa or a little snoop (knowing their backstory isn’t going to make them less dangerous), because remember, they’ll be back, and due to the power of coincidence, they’re probably on their way RIGHT NOW.

13. Always use unlikely weapons: You know when the characters get all geared up, the gun runs out of ammo, the knife slips out of their hand, and it’s as if they were never armed in the first place. I’m telling you, it seems weird, but weapons like bottles and knitting needles are the way to go! They’re more unexpected, and will still manage to get the job done.

14. No abandoned buildings: Bigggggggggggggggggg no-no. Not only are they creepy, but they’re cesspools for dangerous activity, and worse, creaking floors and roofs that cave in make it very easy to get cornered or trapped in them!

15. Follow/listen to the dog or cat!: This is a fairly simple one, but if a dog or cat is upset, nervous, or running away, you should be doing the same. Animal instincts trump human ones, so in dire situations, they know best.

16. Don’t rely on the police: In horror movie circumstances, these people are practically useless. Don’t even waste time calling them, you’ll just slow yourself down.

17. Don’t trust the love interest: Yeah, sorry to all those couples out there, but Halloween is a day of NO TRUST. If history repeats itself (or at least rhymes), your love interest is bad news at worst and will slow you down at best. Best to steer clear.

18. Stick with the hiding place!: If you think you’ve waited long enough to leave, you haven’t, because the killer is never truly gone. So, stay in the environment where you have control, and are safe. And newsflash, that’s not out in the open. Just keep quiet, and stay still.

19. Don’t hesitate to kill the killer: Look, now isn’t the time for sympathy, it’s time for survival. And how to survive you ask? By the killer being dead! So just breathe, and remember, your survival is the most important thing.

20. Last but not least, the danger is NEVER OVER: This one’s an offset of Rule 19, but no matter what’s happened, there’s ZERO guarantee that you’re safe. There’s not much to do about this one, I’m just saying, be ready to look away for a second, and then have the previously incapacitated monster’s body be gone - but don’t fear, it’ll be over soon, just make sure to stay fully aware of your surroundings until it is (which won’t be as soon as you think).

Good luck to you all!!


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