Horror films are a massive pain in the arse, if you’re in them. You’re essentially given a one in five, maybe even a one in ten chance of surviving. So how do you survive?

A spooky house.For starters, we’re going to have to delve into the tropes to analyse the various demographics horror screenwriters have decided just aren’t worth saving. There are the historical examples – don’t be unintelligent, or unintelligent and attractive, don’t be black, don’t be a nasty character, and so on. These have all been covered to death, and to avoid banging that drum endlessly and boring you senseless this Halloween I’m going to take a look at some basic mistakes.

Lock all the doors behind you.

No, really, do it. If you can’t lock them, close them. If you close them, do what James Bond once did and use any kind of adhesive (saliva might work) and a hair to attach a “purity seal” onto the door and door frame that you can check later to see if the door’s been opened.

The reason for this is because in horror films, people quite frequently seem to forget about closing or even locking doors behind them and simply walk through a building leaving a very obvious trail behind them. Give yourself some warning. Many horror villains are serial killers, which makes them human and therefore vulnerable to ambush, even if it is whacking them one after they stumble through a door they swore you’d just closed.

Stay together.

It’s amazing how often people split up in horror films. There’s never any advantage to it, either! People simply think it’s better to wander off into the dark alone in order to find a solution more quickly, and it’s simply a way for the screenwriter to isolate each character and orchestrate a series of realistic deaths after they’ve been unrealistically removed from each other’s presence.

So, if you find yourself in a horror-film situation, ensure no one goes anywhere. Unless you’re stuck in Saw, in which case it’s probably best just to run for the hills. This is one of those horror films where a lot of people trapped in an area can turn into a bloodbath as survival instincts overtake empathy and everyone sees red. No one said these rules were entirely consistent.

Facing the supernatural? Oh dear.

The problem with some horror films, like The Ring, is that you can’t really win when you’re facing up against something that’s a little bit on the ectoplasmic side. I mean, if it’s some guy with a knife and a hockey mask blundering about in the woods trying to take revenge for his crappy childhood, then that’s one thing, but if the walls are bleeding and dead children are coming out of the television screen, you’re going to need to consider another way out.

This is why these sorts of horror films frustrate me a bit, as there’s no realistic way to deal with them. It’s scary watching people being dragged around the house in a Paranormal Activity flick, but how do they win? We don’t recommend exorcists, as that may make things worse. Try just not opening all the haunted boxes and ignoring any paintings who request that you free them from their terrible prison. Bury that stuff at the bottom of a deep, deep hole, and then put the house up for sale, I reckon. And do it sharpish.

Video cameras.

I’ll never understand what possesses people to film things that happen to them in horror films. It’s almost as though there’s this specific demographic of individuals who, when confronted with one of the most terrifying situations they’re ever likely to experience, are sane enough to be scared, yet somehow brave enough to ensure everything is caught on film.

The Blair Witch Project I can understand, as the concept of the film is that the characters are filming the events, not an actual on-set camera crew – the “found footage” sub-genre of horror gets a pass from me. However, if you’re in a horror film and the doors start slamming shut and the dog starts running around on the ceiling, you’d probably be more preoccupied with screaming your head off and trying to run the hell away than capturing everything.

What exactly do they think the footage will do, for that matter? It’s not going to go on YouTube without being banned, and it’s hardly going to be something you’d want to whip out at parties (probably because that’s actually the starting point for the sequel), so I’m at a loss.

If you do any of the above, you’ve got a better chance of surviving, and it’s worth checking out this brilliant trailer called HELL NO for some of the tips above and a few more. Just don’t solve ancient puzzle cubes, because to me that seems like you’re tempting fate as much as trying to solve the evil thing does. Good luck, and may you avoid masked or ectoplasmic killers forever.

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