Slashers films were a popular genre in the '80s with Friday the 13th, Halloween, and Nightmare on Elm Street leading the pack. The genre then faded from memory until it received a revival of sorts in the new Millenium with the success of the Scream franchise. Nowadays, there are more slasher movies than any one person would want to watch in a lifetime, save for the most dedicated fans.
With so many features under the genre, there are a lot of tropes and themes that the movies follow, some that are still interesting, and others not so much:
10 Tired: Sex is Immoral
How many character couples have been shown to be enjoying an intimate moment in a private setting, only to have the killer appear and eviscerate them in a manner most foul, especially the woman?
This is one of the oldest tropes in the genre, and ties into one of the oldest taboos that exist in society: Those who have sex and enjoy it need to be punished. With society's new focus on sex-positivity, this trope definitely feels like a tired and antiquated idea.
9 Interesting: Anyone Can Die
One of the things that make the best slashers so compelling is that every major and minor character can be killed off. The rules of a core cast of characters bringing a story to its final conclusion that other movie genres have to follow do not apply to slasher films.
The handsome male lead? He can be dismembered. The saucy and alluring cheerleader? Strangled. The old man who hobbles into a scene with important information regarding the identity of the killer? Stabbed through the heart before he can impart that info. It is the prospect of everyone being fair game for getting offed onscreen that makes slashers so enjoyable.
8 Tired: Incompetent Authority Figures
How many serial killers in slasher films get away with their crimes for so long because the police or the hospital staff or local law enforcement agencies were unable to perform their most basic duties?
Slasher movies routinely show authority figures ignoring obvious evidence and refusing to believe multiple eye-witness accounts that a serial killer wielding some outrageous weapon is on the loose, just so the lead can be the one to have to handle the killer on their own.
How about showing a local town sheriff who actually believes the lead character's tale of a serial killer, and then calls in backup to investigate the killer's lair instead of venturing inside on their own?
7 Interesting: Douchebag Victim
You'd think the audience would always be on the side of the people trying to avoid getting disemboweled by the serial killer. Yet, there are times when the victim is such an awful person that you end up rooting for the killer to go to town on them.
Prime examples are abusive parents, sadistic bullies, and corrupt officials. These characters are built up as truly awful humans throughout the film precisely so that the scene when they finally get their comeuppance at the hands of the killer feels all the more satisfying to audiences.
6 Tired: Black Dude Dies First
We're not sure when or how this became a trend in slasher films, but it has been there for as long as there have been slasher movies. So frequently-used is this trend that the movie Get Out was basically a deconstruction of the trope. It is high time we see black characters in slasher films who don't die immediately at the hands of the killer.
In a post-President Obama and Black Panther world, surely there can be a black character in a slasher flick who is capable of running slightly faster than a lumbering serial killer or who doesn't leave the group in the middle of a sinisterly isolated cabin or mansion?
5 Interesting: Indestructible Enemy
In general, the killers in slasher films are supposed to be the personification of death. No matter how hard you run, how many people try to help, or the amount of traps you lay, death always keeps moving towards you. At first slowly in the distance, but then you turn around and he is standing right behind you, chainsaw in the air, seconds away from ending your life.
As such, it would be pretty anti-climactic if the killer could be taken down with a couple of bullets. Sure, Jason's immortality makes no sense, but that is what makes him even more of a stand-in for the literal concept of death. He is ever-present, inexorably drawing closer, and there is nothing you can do to prevent Jason from someday claiming you.
4 Tired: Death By Incompetence
How many times have you watched a victim bite the dust at the hands of a slasher and thought, "There are at least six ways they could have avoided that attack."
Slasher films are notorious for having characters that almost seem to be making every wrong decision on purpose just to make it easier for the killer to dismember them in private.
We get that every victim needs to be picked off one by one to leave space for the final confrontation between the lead and the killer, but even that can be achieved without making the rest of the cast appear dimmer than the lone light bulb flickering in the middle of the room while the heavy tread of the killer and the scraping of the knife on the wall outside can be heard within.
3 Interesting: Improvised Weapons
Since regular weapons rarely work on slasher villains, or they are out of reach, the victims have to come up with clever and inventive ways to dispose the villains, and that is where the audience truly starts rooting for the heroes, as they stumble across a possible way to deter the villain long enough to make their escape.
Like when the lead pair manage to chain Jason to the bottom of the river. Or, the dream warriors finally succeed in beating Freddie at his own game. Or, when an entire family spent multiple generations constructing a new configuration in space for trapping and finally killing Pinhead.
2 Tired: Copying Scream/Friday the 13th
It is remarkable how many slasher films copy/satirize/pay homage to Scream or Friday the 13th, so much so that even Halloween's Michael Myers is seen as a Jason Voorhees ripoff, even though the Halloween movie came out before Friday the 13th.
It is high time we see slasher films branch away from the influence of these two films and explore new themes and territory.
1 Interesting: The Kickass Heroine
Female superheroes might be getting more and more popular, but for the longest time, slashers were the only film genre where the heroines were allowed to take down the villain.
Whether it was Ripley from Alien, Laurie Strode from Halloween, or Sidney from Scream, a strong female protagonist who does not just wait for the hero to save the day is one of the best, most progressive aspects of the genre.