When Fear Takes Over: The Power of Helpless Horror in Cinema

We all know the final girl trope, the unabashed main character who escapes terror and violence as the reigning survivor—forced to live the rest of her days without her friends or family. Some people revere the final girl trope, and some gasp at it, pleading for new horror inventions. One thread on R/horror on Reddit asked users how they felt about useless characters in horror movies. Those characters accept their fate without trying to fight back. 

Here is what horror fans had to say about popular films that use this trope. 

1. The Mist

The first reply on this thread noted an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, The Mist. When a rainstorm strikes a town in Maine, a family sets out to stock up on groceries. After they leave the house, a dense fog swallows the city. Creatures and evil lurk in the mist, leading to one of the most painful endings in horror. 

One person praised The Mist for this technique. 

I love the ending for this reason too. The way the helplessness feeling really hits you the last couple of minutes and the ending gives no relief.. it really stuck with me for a while. It was a very impactful ending, and one of the reasons I love the trope so much.”

2. Halloween 

One user mentioned their annoyance toward Loomis’ character in the franchise notorious for Michael Myers’ obsession with Laurie Strode. 

“Perhaps Halloween. Loomis was almost useless in that movie, apart from the ending when he came to Laurie’s rescue. He didn’t even hear Michael pull up in his station wagon, which ended up being parked only several yards from where he was standing. Hanging around the Myers house for most of the evening got three people killed.”

3. The Monster 

A24 is known for its avant-garde distributions. The Monster focuses on a mother and daughter embarking on a late-night drive to meet the father. Before they arrive at the father’s house, the mother and daughter duo get in a car crash, destroying the car in the middle of the night near creepy woods. 

“A24’s The Monster fits this bill. Mom and her daughter are trapped in the road in the forest while a bipedal mutated crocodile slowly kills the people trying to help. I won’t spoil it. It was ok,” someone wrote. 

4. Watcher 

Maika Monroe is a horror icon. Her performance in Watcher equaled her enthralling performance in the 2017 cult classic It Follows. Maika’s character senses something is off when a strange neighbor begins to show up everywhere she looks. 

One horror fan supported this trope, writing Watcher as a great example of a character who has to “overcome oppressive social forces and find unique solutions to the peril they’ve become ensconced in.” 

I wholeheartedly agree. 

5. Rec 

Found footage is a hit-or-miss subgenre. You either hate it or love it. There is no in-between. Rec is one of the best found-footage movies ever. Released in 2007, the Spanish film is about firefighters responding to a call in an apartment complex. Once the firefighters arrive, police learn one of the residents is ill with a contagious virus. The police entrap everyone in the confines of the building as the virus spreads. 

U/ ThisIsCreation shared, “You feel just as helpless as the characters in the movie.”

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.


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