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Updated Horror-Movie Tropes

The horror genre’s tropes are some of the most well worn in cinema—you’ve got the jock, the stoner, the token Black character, and the virginal female lead. But contemporary audiences have begun to tire of these stereotypes. So here is a sampling of some new character tropes that any big-shot Hollywood dealmaker who is reading this is free to use, so long as they give me full credit and compensation.

The Young Republican

This Jacob Wohl look-alike, who wears pin-striped suits to school and has a portrait of Ben Sasse pinned up in his locker, offers a timely, insufferable element to any horror film. This character will be best known for grating observations about how the serial killer “is a classic Marxist, obsessed with taking something that he has no right to,” and that the real monster isn’t the giant, tentacled monster ravaging the town square but America’s obsession with P.C. culture.

The Stoner’s Parents, Who Are in a Deeply Unhealthy, Uncommunicative Open Marriage

Finally, an explanation for why that guy’s always numbing himself with weed. When the stoner finally tells his parents that he wasn’t at a sleepover last night but was fighting off the demonic spirit of a seven-year-old girl who died in 1784, his dad will seem to listen intently, nod, and then reply, “Your mother is falling in love with Mrs. Schneider, and I’m falling out of love with your mother.”

The Socialist Who Thinks That the Monster Is Just a Victim of a Capitalistic Society and Can Therefore Be Reasoned With

Maybe the fury of the sea monster stems from the powerlessness that it felt when Deepwater Horizon destroyed its home. Perhaps the witch eats children to symbolize her rejection of a system in which women’s domestic duties are seen as implicit rather than as unpaid labor. Probably not, but it would sure be entertaining to watch someone try to read “Das Kapital” to a megalodon before being swallowed whole.

The White Guy with Dreadlocks

An easy, painless kill in the first act.

The Viral TikToker

Imagine the reliable payoff of a blue-haired guy named Amos or Jax taking a front-facing video with the killer and saying “Um, bro, I know we just met in this parking lot, but I’ve gotta ask: Have you ever heard of a thing called deodorant?” right before getting his head chopped off.

The Gas-Station Attendant Who, in Addition to Warning the Teens That It’s Not Safe to Drive Into the Hills Late at Night, Asks Some Tricky Questions About Gender and Sexual Identity

If you’ve seen any horror flick set in the backwoods, you’ve got the first half of this guy’s monologue down pat. But then he spices things up by adding in some wild curveballs at the end of his ominous message, such as, “And, before you kids go, riddle me this: How are gender and sexual identity two separate things, when someone’s sexual identity might be tied to their ability to sexualize their own doggone gender?” Then have him spit a huge wad of dip and whistle at the teen girls, who were born when he was in his thirties.

The Zombie Who Calms Its Victims by Suggesting That Death Is Sweeter Than Medical Debt

Just because a stereotype applies to a flesh-eating, undead brute doesn’t mean it’s not a stereotype. End the one-dimensional portrayal of these complicated creatures by writing a zombie who presents its victims with the medical bills they’d incur were they to survive having their legs and spleen eaten. A zombie who understands just how broken the American medical system is maybe—just maybe—deserves to have a warm meal, even if that meal is the film’s protagonist.

The Little Girl Who Sees Ghosts, Including Her Grandma, and Is Unfortunately Learning Some Really Outdated Ideas About Dating

Audiences won’t know what’s scarier, little Evelyn seeing a Colonial-era boy standing perfectly still at the foot of her bed or little Evelyn spending all weekend with the ghost of her long-dead grandma, who tells her that only floozies and bimbos are selfish enough not to have dinner ready for their husband when he gets home from work, and that if Evelyn wants to find a good man, she’ll need to stop yapping on about all that “wanting to become a doctor” nonsense.

The Murderous Haunted House That’s Sitting on Some Killer Real Estate

At first, this trope will play out in a familiar fashion: a young couple moves into a charming fixer-upper and is promptly visited by its live-in ghosts and ghouls. But, just as the tension is reaching a peak, we’ll meet the film’s most terrifying villain, a real-estate developer who says that the house is sitting on a gold mine of a land parcel that would crush it as condos with a ground-floor ramen bar. Can the ghouls, who have been there for hundreds of years, defeat gentrification? Audiences will be left speechless.

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