When the writer sat down to begin his script, he listed traditional horror movie cliches on a poster board over his desk, then proceeded to avoid them.
I thought about how this could apply to writers of any given genre. With my last manuscript (most easily described as "chick lit"), I decided the thing I absolutely wanted to avoid was the simple-misunderstanding-threatens-to-undermine-everyone's-love-connection development. I often find myself infuriated that otherwise intelligent characters are too damn dumb to just sit down and talk out their problem.
I'm currently working on a young adult project, so I want to come up with a list of "Young Adult Cliches" that I (and anyone else) can put on their poster board over their desk.
If you can't avoid the following, people, at least try to subvert them a bit:
1. Male love interest acts horribly to female protagonist, but as it turns out, his nastiness was just a cover for feelings of overwhelming love.
2. Beautiful best friend who attracts all the guys in school, but dates none of them.
3. The token black friend.
(I'm not saying there shouldn't be black kids in young adult literature -- just that if there's one, perhaps it's possible that there are two? And sometimes, they should be male. And maybe once in awhile we should just say they're black, instead of going through the Starbucks menu--coffee, cappuccino, cafe au latte, caramel machiato, or mocha.
People, I am white and freckly. I am not a vanilla bean frappechino.)
4. The main character's biggest personality flaw = being tone deaf.
5. The main character's biggest physical flaw = having a scar through one eyebrow.
6. Fingernail biting, chewing lips, or digging nails into palms until you've drawn blood.
7. The female protagonist with no female friends; or, in the alternative, the female protagonist with no female friends in whom she actually confides.
8. A group of nasty cheerleaders; or, in the alternative, a group of nasty fundamentalist Christians.
Any others you all would like to add to the list? I'm sure there are plenty more out there to be found.
* Solid film, fyi, if a bit defeated by a weak third act. And, like most visually frightening films, it wreaked some havoc on my overactive imagination. Sometime around 2am, I woke in a panic and debated asking Diego if I could sleep on the floor in his room. Concluding that would be creepy, I then decided to let the ferocious Spencer out of his crate so he could sleep in my bed and protect me.
|He may not look like it, but this dog's instincts are finely honed. He's ready to leap into action and cuddle the bajeebers out of any potential attacker.|
But I have to say, well done to Insidious for avoiding the number one horror movie cliche: family staying in a haunted house. Once any rational person is presented with overwhelming evidence that their house has caught a case of the ghosties, they get the F out.
So thank you, Insidious. Thank you.