Horror movie

10 Things That Make A Horror Movie Great, According To Reddit

When a horror movie is bad, it’s often not scary at all, with poorly designed characters and a concept that feels like it’s been done countless times before. Fans of the genre have seen plenty of boring movies that are nothing short of amazing, and when a movie comes along that’s uniquely well-written, fast-paced, creative, and engaging, it’s truly exciting.

Fans have taken to Reddit to share the elements of horror movies that make a movie stand out, because there’s an art to telling a scary story that requires a lot of important building blocks.

Show, don’t tell

The Triton lying on his stomach in The Cabin In The Woods

The idea of ​​”show, don’t tell” is common writing advice and applies particularly well to horror movies. Audiences want to see the action, not hear about it from characters talking to each other. Many elements matter here, from pacing and plot points to an overall sense of tension and good dialogue.


An editor in chief think a great horror movie has “good visuals and editing to drive the story forward” as they don’t like when characters have “long exposition to explain what’s going on”. The monsters in The cabin in the woods create a spooky atmosphere and the movie is fast paced while letting the audience know what’s going on.

Make scary what is “safe”

halloween 1978 laurie lynda annie

For RedditorComic Methodan excellent horror film “takes an element of our lives that feels safe and shows us how quickly it can be dangerous” as Laurie Strode and her babysitting friends in Halloween.

When Laurie and her friends Annie Brackett and Lynda Van der Klok come home from school and get ready to go to their babysitting job, it’s scary because it feels so normal and like something anyone could experience. . The characters chat like it’s a normal day, enjoying the beautiful fall weather and getting ready for a fun night out. They have no idea Michael Myers is out there and their lives are going to be in danger.

Showing a bit of the creature or monster

An image from the 1999 horror film The Blair Witch Project.

Filmmakers know exactly when to show audiences a creature, monster, demon, or evil spirit. There must be a buildup of tension before this point, so it’s as terrifying as it gets. If a monster appeared at the very beginning of the movie, it might still be scary, but it wouldn’t make audiences want to keep watching.

Reddit caseyfoor wrote that they “only like to get glimpses of the monster/demon/whatever” and mentioned that The Blair Witch Project was scary because the audience is only told “descriptions of locals and strange noises during the night”. It’s definitely a good example of a movie that has a creepy vibe because the horror is in what the audience doesn’t see but knows is there.

It looks like the story could really happen

Cry Sidney Prescott Neve Campbell

Some horror films are more in the realm of science fiction and others feature realistic characters in small towns or cities, going about their usual lives and encountering a killer, villain or a scary situation.

An editor in chief likes the latter, writing that a great horror movie is “(semi) believable and relatable. Something you see and think ‘could happen’, otherwise I would have reacted the same way.” The Scream the franchise feels like it’s in that category like the original Scream is about teenage life and Sidney still feels like an ordinary person. The film also succeeds in creating Sidney’s world, from her friends to her father to the high school she attends every day.

Characters fans can invest in

Redditor liminalsup posted that “I have to care about the characters” for a horror movie to be great. It’s true that well-designed characters separate an amazing, awesome movie from a boring or cheesy movie that doesn’t need rewatching.

In We for example, audiences are invested in the story of Adelaide Wilson and her connection to Red, and Midsommar works because fans want Dani Ardor to be okay after dealing with a family tragedy. These characters have rich stories and audiences know who they are and why they do the things they do.

perfect music

Halloween (1978)

For Redditor Burtmaclin2, a horror movie needs good music. The fan wrote, “A good score can make or break a horror movie. The score sets the tone for the whole movie.” Whether a movie uses a memorable and popular song or a score was written specifically for the movie, it definitely makes a difference.

Fans of the genre love John Carpenter Halloween mark as every time Michael Myers appears on Laurie Street in Haddonfield, Illinois, audiences hear hauntingly beautiful music. This increases the tension and makes it seem like Michael could show up at any time and kill someone.

The film has an important message

Daniel Kaluuya cries and looks terrified in Get Out

Writer Yaohur love when horror movies are”on something,” adding, “The Exorcist was great because it was a movie about faith and doubt” and noted that “get out I think it will become a modern classic” because it has something to say. The fan wrote that the best horror movies have a “raw, uncensored examination of the human condition”.

Even the best slasher movies have a main storyline that touches on meaningful and important topics, which always makes a horror movie better because it gives audiences something to think about.

Explain monster rules

An image of a blond protagonist standing in the middle of the road

There’s nothing worse than a horror movie that doesn’t explain the rules of the monster, creature, or terrifying situation at hand. Audiences want to be able to enter that world immediately and understand exactly what is going on. A movie without rules is entertaining because it can be hard to focus on the main story and characters when there are so many unanswered questions.

redditor sorahart rented It follows because it lets fans “understand how the monster ‘works’, and it has a clear set of rules that it doesn’t break. It’s important to establish that.” Although the origin of the curse remains a mystery, the film still makes sense.

Not too gory

The death toll is of course high in slashers, and sometimes supernatural movies have a lot of gore too. For Lightalife Redditor, it’s better when a horror movie doesn’t have very bloody scenes. The fan wrote, “Gore should be used to enhance an action or scene.”

While the nature of the slasher genre means audiences are going to see gruesome death scenes, that’s not the case for all subgenres. There are plenty of great gore-free horror movies out there and it’s always a nice surprise. Conspiracy and also the annabelle the films are incredibly scary and tense, but these supernatural-focused stories don’t have much blood.

No shots expected

Ethan Hawke as Ellison Oswalt in Sinister

Horror fans are used to plenty of shots, from characters saying “I’ll be right back” then rushing straight into killer atmosphere to a character falling running. It can be hard to see these being used over and over again.

Redditor burritoburglar appreciate Claim as an “original story with very scary aspects and lots of suspenseful scenes”. Ellison Oswalt discovers the horrific story behind his new home and the moment he realizes the danger he is in, he feels powerless to stop it. Claim stands out and every scene is unnerving.

NEXT: 10 Horror Movies To Watch If You Loved Sinister

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