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10 Edgar Wright Signature Tropes | ScreenRant

Edgar Wright has been one of the most creative filmmakers of the modern era. Known for his genre-bending exercise for his six-movie filmography (including his lesser known directorial debut A Fistful of Fingers), he truly made a mark for filmmakers of the next generation to push the boundaries for creativity and challenge the power of cinema.

RELATED: 10 Movies Where The Extended/Director’s Cut Was Better Than The Original

Not exaggerating there, but on examining his techniques, one can really see how Edgar Wright managed to play with significant cinematic tropes and weave them effectively to his movies. With that, here are the ten techniques on creating the definitive Edgar Wright movie.

10 Perfect Cameos

Edgar Wright brings a plethora of blink-and-miss cameos to his movies to not only cameo for cameo’s sake but to bring notches to the film genre he is poking fun. Or to simply place them cleverly for the plot.

In Shaun of the Dead, The Office UK’s Martin Freeman cameos as Liz’s male counterpart Declan (he will soon have his identical counterpart in The World’s End). Speaking of Freeman, he, Bill Nighy and Steve Coogan appeared as Nick Angel’s superior in Hot Fuzz. And in Baby Driver, Sky Ferreira and Jon Spencer, whose songs appear in the soundtrack, appear briefly.

9 Creative Gore

When Wright pushes the boundaries of his bloody content, he really did push it. All of his movies would at least include one gore scene, from obviously Shaun of the Dead to even Baby Driver. But he did so with a creative notch.

RELATED: 10 Perfect Horror Comedies To Relieve Some Of The Tension On Halloween

In Shaun of the Dead, weapons that allow a bloody blow range from a vinyl disk to a paddle. In Hot Fuzz, a spoke from a town replica would even be fatal. In Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, kills will be equated with points. And in The World’s End, blood will be substituted with blue ink. Genius.

8 Fences

There will also be a cameo appearance of one asset: fences. Ordinary they may seem, the placement of fences in Wright’s movies signify the state that his lead protagonists are in currently. They appear prominently in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy.

In Shaun of the Dead, Shaun suggests hopping above the suburban fences to reach the Winchester pub, much to the gang’s chagrin. In Hot Fuzz, Nick flawlessly parkours a series of garden fences to show Danny. And in The World’s End, Gary attempts to escape from alien evaders by jumping on a wooden fence, only for it to fall.

7 Light-and-Sound Cues

Wright sees the screen as his audiovisual playground. So, he would play many light and sound cues to scenes that need that jolt.

In Shaun, it is the knife gleam and the awkward scroll of the camera. In Hot Fuzz, it is the car lights/braces and the buzz over Timothy Dalton’s Skinner. In Scott Pilgrim, it is manifested by Aubrey Plaza’s Julie Powers confrontation towards Scott. In World’s End, it is the mark of the alien Blanks and the calm filling of water. And in Baby Driver, it is the dominant presence of a track in the opening chase scene.

6 On-the-Nose Nomenclature

Wright is brilliant with his aesthetics as he is with his writing. That also goes down to the character names for each movie, except for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World since Bryan Lee O’Malley provided the source material. And on observing the character names, one will see how tongue-in-cheek they are.

RELATED: The 10 Most Memorable Edgar Wright Characters, Ranked

In Hot Fuzz, the people to watch are those having the surnames Skinner, Cooper, Weaver, Reaper, Fisher, Shooter, Walker, Draper, Blower, Tiller and Hatcher. Continuing the on-the-nose surnames, in The World’s End, the five leads are King, Knightley, Prince, Chamberlain and Page. Baby Driver also continued this with aliases.

5 Recall Humor

Characterization is what drives humor in Edgar Wright’s movies. And there are instances that one gag will be recalled on a later joke. The necessity of the “recall humor” is for a consistent tone and status of character progression.

This is apparent in Shaun of the Dead with Shaun being reminded of a friendly gross-out gag and a stain visual note, in the beginning and the end. See this example as well in Hot Fuzz with a verbal exchange between Angel and a lady. Witness it as well in Scott Pilgrim with the Easter eggs about the Seven Evil Exes.

4 Speedy Editing of Mundane Stuff

To make every scene fun and kinetic, Wright employs a lot of editing techniques to make the best of the runtime and play the scene with flashy transitions.

Starting off in Shaun, the night-to-day transition was plastered on the instance Shaun slept by the door column and the speedy editing is employed in his morning routine. Wright applied this is Hot Fuzz with Angel’s travel to Sandford and his bedside stay. Count these instances to appear in Scott Pilgrim, The World’s End, and Baby Driver. Wright wants to make every mundane everyday feel cinematic. So, this is the visual remedy.

3 Cheeky Foreshadowing

Wright really loves to tease his audience with hints of spoiling the movie from the very beginning, either to bookend the movie or to raise the plot point. For starters, listen to Nick Frost’s Ed convincing Simon Pegg’s Shaun for pity drinking after Liz dumped Shaun.

RELATED: 10 Best Moments Of Foreshadowing In Shaun Of The Dead

Check in Hot Fuzz of the importance of a “model town”. See in The World’s End for how Pegg’s Gary King narrates the backstory of his high school buddies and how it mirrors the entire film. And spot the toy car in Baby Driver and how it relates to a later climactic action scene.

2 Syncing of Songs to the Action

Like any film auteur, Edgar Wright weaves great songs to certain scenes in the film. Yet, there is a sense of choreography of how Wright executes scenes with songs playing, or vice versa.

A notable use of this trope is applying Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” in a fight scene in Shaun. Other examples include “Black Sheep” in Scott Pilgrim over an awesomely edited sequence, “Alabama Song” (The Doors version) in The World’s End after Andy succumbed to drinking, and the entirety of Baby Driver, especially during the opening car chase with “Bellbottoms” and the title sequence with “Harlem Shuffle”.

1 Spoofing While Staying Original

It is a misnomer to tout Edgar Wright’s movies as parody movies. While one can argue that they are spoof movies, they are actually original stories that happens to take place on a particular movie genre.

A Fistful of Fingers pokes fun of Westerns. Shaun of the Dead is a sendoff to zombie movies. Hot Fuzz is an homage to buddy cop films. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is an adaptation of a graphic novel that takes videogame tropes. The World’s End is a sendup to apocalyptic sci-fi. And Baby Driver is a direct take on car chase movies a la Fast & Furious.

Due to their humor and callbacks to their motion picture cousins, they may be considered as spoofs. But stripping their genre frameworks, they are still good human stories before director Edgar Wright place them in the genres they need. That makes him an original genre bender.

NEXT: Last Night In Soho: Everything We Know (So Far) About Edgar Wright’s New Horror Movie


2020-02-19 01:02:37

Paolo Alfar

5 Tropes From ’90s Action Movies That We Miss (& 5 That We Don’t)

The ’90s remains one of the golden ages for action movies. Serving up a legion of the best, most iconic heroes, settings, and straight-up awesome action set pieces that today’s movies could still learn from. There’s a good argument that its mix of weirdness and shameless blockbuster pomp makes it the greatest action decade of them all.

RELATED: Die Hard: 10 Moments That Prove John McClane Is The Greatest Action Hero In Film

Director’s like Bay, Cameron, Spielberg, Woo, De Bont, Tarantino, McTiernan firing on all cylinders and making explosions and gunfights with just enough story and character wrapped around them, so that we cared. Among those films were a selection of great and not-so-great tropes that typify the era. Tropes that we love and miss, and others that, hopefully, remain on the other side of the century divide.

10 Don’t Miss: Dumbing Down Scenes

Are you sure the audience understood your tech jargon? Better have someone ask for it so it’s dumbed down for the masses. Not only are these usually terrible scenes, they often insult our intelligence by boiling down problems.

The best ones occur when the dumbing down is accompanied by humor, like Egon explaining the ‘cross the streams’ problem to Venkman in Ghostbusters. Otherwise, let’s just assume the big explosion or meltdown or velociraptor migration is bad in and of itself and move on.

9 Miss: The Ticking Clock Trope

It was already old by the ’90s but the ‘ticking clock’ trope remains a staple of the decade and still has its place today. There’s something ingrained in audiences that no matter the stakes, a close shave save is better when there’s a clearly defined time left on the action clock.

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Never underestimate the moment of held breath as a timer counts down, or a hero struggles to save someone in imminent peril by the skin of his teeth. They underemphasis it these days because a bright red display counting down to 00:01 was played out, but admit it. It’s a magic number when the hero makes the literal last-second save. Just ask Galaxy Quest.

8 Don’t Miss: The Invincible Action Hero

A henchman takes a shot to the leg; he’s out for the count. The hero takes a bullet to the shoulder, knife to the side, and is hungover? Walk it off while retaining perfect aim and barely disrupted hair.

We do enjoy our heroes being the epitome of toughness, but it got pretty ridiculous for a while to the point of being cartoony. Wounds of ever-increasing gruesomeness became little more than decorative until there needed to be a complete reset in the genre.

7 Miss: Reuniting Other Action Stars

One of the best parts of MacGruber was the callback to ’90s team-up flicks. The hero showing up at various jobs and re-recruiting ‘the old crew’ for ‘one final job’ to get ‘that bastard who got away.’

RELATED: Die Hard: 5 Best Action Movie Imitators (& 5 Worst)

Whether it’s going through each of their ‘specialities’ (Demolitions. Infiltration. Back Rubs) or character archetypes so exact to the mold you know them before they open their mouths, it’s never not awesome. It’s like the ’80s ‘gear up’ trope, but for people! And what are people, but the weapons of life? Think about it.

6 Don’t Miss: Bulletproof Tables

Good thing that that table our hero dove behind happened to be reinforced, armored, and a little magic too. Yet somehow this thing is capable of stopping all manner of bullets and debris incoming at our hero.

The same goes for flimsy car doors, wooden doors in general, pillars, mannequins, laundry baskets, stuffed teddies, and every other impossibly tough thing that has suddenly become bulletproof when needed. This goes for anything being kept in an upper chest pocket as well that somehow absorbs killer projectiles.

5 Miss: Inspirational Speeches

The rousing speech. The defiant monologue. The kickass ‘holding of court.’ Call it whatever you will, but there aren’t enough of these anymore. It’s become fashionable for our heroes to be stoic in the face of evil, and while that may be badass, it isn’t quite the same.

You can’t really imagine John Wick or Mad Max delivering one of these nowadays, but in the ’90s lots of movie Presidents, Generals, or heroes could be counted on to stand up and command attention with a scintillating speech.

4 Don’t Miss: Being Able To Drive Anything Without Training

Good thing our hero cop had that week of pilot training on his Maui vacation, which translates to jet flying pretty seamlessly, and therefore he can drive a satellite, right? If there’s one thing 90’s action heroes could do, it’s drive. Drive what, you may ask? Anything.

Related: 10 Action Movie Villains Who Could Beat John Wick In A Fight

From plausible things like trucks all the way to trains, planes, and choppers, as long as you can ‘get to it,’ you can fly it. After fumbling around for the keys only to flip down the visor, so they fall into your palm, of course.

3 Miss: Silly High-Speed Chases

Sorely missed these days is the fun of a high-speed chase destroying some fruit stand, or a pane of glass or something. It may be contrived that among the chaos someone randomly wanders out into the street or remains there to get obliterated, but it’s too fun for it to not make a comeback.

There was a time when action movies went out of their way to create these moments, like the San Fransisco trolley in The Rock, or the pram full of cans in Speed. Sometimes, you’ve just got to give the people what they want, even if what we want is kinda silly.

2 Don’t Miss: Not Immediately Killing The Bad Guy

Leaving the bad guy alone for any length of time without either finishing them off or tying them up is something that happened all the time in ’90s action movies. The only reason this ever happens is so the story can continue despite the lapse in logic.

Like yelling at a horror movie when the survivors decide to go investigate a noise, this is only frustrating and makes you kind of want the hero to lose a bit. Seriously, dumb stuff like this happened way too often.

1 Miss: Good Bruce Willis Movies

Bruce Willis burst into mega action stardom in the ’80s but the ’90s were all of us jamming on his output. So A+, prime, sarcastic, grumpy Bruce Willis is a trope all on his own that we miss dearly. The good Die Hard sequels, Pulp Fiction, 12 Monkeys, The Sixth Element, Armageddon, and even The Sixth Sense.

The man was a virtual guarantee for the decade of good action fare. He still had some gas left in the tank after the turn of the century. Stuff like Sin City, Looper, and Lucky Number Slevin, but it’s not ‘prime Bruce Willis.’

NEXT: 5 Tropes From 80s Action Movies That We Miss (& 5 That We Don’t)


2020-02-10 01:02:02

Mik Rona

Missing Link: 5 Bigfoot Tropes It Breaks (& 5 It Follows)

Missing Link grabbed the world’s interest when it won the award for Best Animated Feature at the 77th Annual Golden Globes, beating out three Disney films and a DreamWorks movie. For those who hadn’t seen it, the win came as a total surprise;  Frozen 2 and Toy Story 4 fans were shocked that the prize wasn‘t theirs.

RELATED: 10 Animated Movies To Show To People Who Hate Animated Movies

Now that more eyes are on the LAIKA studio film, perhaps it is appropriate to pinpoint ways in which the movie both met and subverted expectations. Here are five ways Missing Link adheres to standard Bigfoot tropes (and 5 where the old playbook was tossed out).

10 Followed: Bigfoot Smells and Makes Unearthly Noises

In many interpretations of the mythical man-monkey beast, Bigfoot is described as having a rather pungent aroma, an expected byproduct from living out in the backwoods of America for so long.

Indeed, about 5 minutes into his initial encounter with the titular Missing Link, Sir Lionel Frost (played expertly by The Wolverine star Hugh Jackman), asks the creature if he may smell him. Later on in the movie, Mr. Link (who prefers to go by the name Susan) unleashes more of his primal side by unleashing a very feral, primitive growl that intimidates both man and beast during a fight scene.

9 Subverted: Bigfoot Speaks!

In a lot of TV and movie properties, Bigfoot is coded as being a strong but silent type. It is expected that he may grunt or make showy gestures, but Bigfoot doesn’t talk, let alone carry out simple conversations. Missing Link eschews tradition and has the eponymous character speak.

In fact, once he starts, he barely stops, and Link/Susan (voiced by Zach Galifianakis) is responsible for most of the witty banter and quirky retorts that are uttered, including puns and turns of phrase (a staple of most LAIKA projects).

8 Followed: The Footprint/Dubious Circumstantial Evidence

Before Sir Lionel Frost sets out on foot for his prize, he literally brings a foot – or rather, a cast model of a footprint – to the adventurer’s club he wishes to join to prove that Bigfoot is real. Such is usually the case with movies where only flimsy evidence is used to convince a skeptical crowd of something fantastical.

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Sometimes it can be a blurry photograph or shaky video footage. In other instances, indisputable evidence is obtained, only for it to be lost or destroyed when offered up as proof. (For example, at the beginning of the movie Frost obtains a clear shot of the Loch Ness monster, only for the camera to be destroyed.)

7 Subverted: Intelligence

The interesting thing about this trope is that it can usually go both ways: sometimes the found Bigfoot is of exceptional intelligence, not unlike the aptly-named Beast from X-Men. For the most part, however, Bigfoot usually possesses the intelligence of a scarcely self-aware animal; it acts like a 3-year-old or a big, lumbering dog.

Missing Link toes the line and subverts expectations by giving Link/Susan an average level of intelligence; he can read, write and speak as good as any man, yet he doesn’t possess scholar-level knowledge. In fact, most sarcasm and figures of speech go entirely over his head. By making him average, the movie essentially grounds him and makes Link/Susan a relatable character, even as a giant ape-man.

6 Followed: Bigfoot Exists in the Same universe as Yetis, Lake Monsters, and Mermaids

A common theme in these mythical creature movies is that if one creature actually exists beyond legend, then it stands to reason that all the mythical creatures exist in the world constructed for the viewer.

As such, Frost has irrefutable evidence of not just Link/Susan, but of the Loch Ness Monster and mermaids, not to mention coming face to face with Yetis and their fabled land of Shangri-La. In fact, the end of the movie sets up a sequel where Link and Frost allegedly team up to uncover the truth about the lost city of Atlantis. Unfortunately, after bombing at the box office, it appears this mystery will remain unsolved.

5 Subverted: Mannerisms

Again, in keeping in line with its beastly appearance, the Bigfoot in TV and movies seem incapable of resisting the urge to resort back to more animalistic behavior.

In a more predictable film, Link/Susan would have likely eaten a live creature, beat its chest and go into an uncontrollable fit of rage, or some other quirk that would have been explained away by his incomplete evolution. Not so is the case with Missing Link: the monster is sensitive, polite, and doesn’t resort to random bouts of violence in order to advance the plot.

4 Followed: Superhuman Strength

Since the creature resembles more ape than man, and primates tends to have more physical strength than their evolved counterpart, Bigfoot is generally written to be quite strong in movies and in TV. Such is the case in Missing Link; a simple punch by Link/Susan could knock an enemy out, destroy a window, or even obliterate a wall.

On many occasions in the film, Link/Susan utilized his strength in order to help out Sir Lionel Frost and Adelina Fortnight, his friends and traveling companions who accompany him through most of the movie.

3 Subverted: Clothes out of necessity

Many times in a Bigfoot or found mythical creature movie, the being in question may be forced to affect visual touches of humanity to conceal its identity and fit in better with the crowd (especially if they are being pursued by some big bad).

RELATED: Every Upcoming Animated Movie To Be Released In 2020

In other cases – usually, when Bigfoot possesses the aforementioned high-level intelligence – clothing is chosen as a bid to look more human. In Missing Link, clothes play a more functional role, as Link/Susan only wears articles of clothing out of necessity; in fact, he can’t and doesn’t even wear any shoes (though he does attempt to wear a sock).

2 Followed: Skepticism

Skepticism is the name of the game with the Bigfoot trope. The general public scoffs at the existence of a mythical creature, and flat out refuses to believe unless they can see the beast with their very own eyes. The central plot of Missing Link is centered on skepticism.

Frost wishes to gain admittance into a club containing pompous, old-stock adventurers, but they refuse his admittance on the grounds they doubt the validity of his exploits. Evidence is the only thing that will change their minds, so Frost embarks on an international quest to prove them all wrong.

1 Subverted: Wanting to Capture Bigfoot

In most movies of this nature, Bigfoot is a desired prize by the main antagonist. If captured, the antagonist hopes to use the creature for its fur, mount it on their wall, or take it in for extensive, invasive experimentation. What makes Missing Link unique is the inherent lack of interest in Link/Susan, even when he’s discovered to be Bigfoot.

In fact, the movie seems more involved in the arc of Sir Lionel Frost than of Link/Susan. Even the head villain, when the truth is staring him in the face, does not want to possess Link, but merely scrub him of existence so that his narrow-minded world view is no longer challenged.

NEXT: 10 Best Laika Animation Characters, Ranked


2020-01-11 01:01:30

Sylvie Soulet

5 Zombie Movie Tropes That Are Immortal (& 5 That Are Braindead)

Say whatever you want, but we all love at least one zombie flick. They vary wildly in quality but one of them at some point will grab you. Whether it’s uncommonly stupid protagonists, ingenious escapes, actually doing the logical thing, pulling a cool weapon, or just because there are some awesomely gross effects, there’s going to be something that gets you invested.

RELATED: 10 Best Zombie TV Shows On Netflix

Among the many ways they grab you, there are also whiplash variations in quality to vie with, and as often as not, the terrible examples give you some sort of enjoyment for sheer absurdity as the good ones do for quality reasons. Even the same series can reach the highest of highs and the lowest of lows depending on how they treat the central aspects of the zombie genre. As such, this has led to tropes for the genre that are completely played out and groan-worthy, while others stand the test of time and live to see the dawn.

10 Immortal: Slow Bros

The stock-standard zombie variety has several inherent dangers that make them perfect for suspense and horror. A persistent, never-ending, slow wave of death provides just the right element for a solid 90 minutes of tension with dramatic spikes throughout. They provide avenues for escape and ingenuity as well as the obvious advantages of only staying down from specific methods, depending on the movie. They offer close escapes, last-minute leaps of faith, and the opportunity for humans to show their best in a crisis, even if most don’t. They are the timeless, genius element that keeps us returning to these stories.

9 Braindead:  Fast Feeders

It may seem on the surface like a danger upgrade but it actually causes too many logic problems and a scare scarcity. Turning shambling, dead corpses into sprinting terrors reduces the ways our heroes can escape, deal with their situation, or believably survive. You also can’t have them run away from these things for the length of a feature without massive leaps in logic, like World War Z’s carnage except for these guys’ problems. High-octane sprints are appealing in short bursts but overall the zombie franchises with legs, shuffle slowly onward instead.

8 Immortal: The Human Element

The best zombie stories are really about the humans put into that constant life-threatening situation. The Walking Dead, Night Of The Living Dead, Shawn Of The Dead, even. The crucible of pressure reveals the real person you’re standing next to when things couldn’t possibly be worse. Who is the coward, who is the hero, who is pragmatic, who is selfless, who wins the Darwin Award, all imminently to be answered. Will your best friend seize the opportunity to push you to your death and steal your girlfriend? Will your husband leave you and the kids to die? Who will stretch out their hand in the crucial moment? These are the untouchable hooks that compel us over and over.

7 Braindead: Silent Until Deadly

For creatures afflicted with no brain power or stealth tactics they sure can sneak up on you. One of the dumbest things in every lesser zombie flick involves someone being taken unawares by something that would’ve needed a soundproof muzzle and soft slippers to achieve. Sometimes it doesn’t even make the smallest amount of sense.

RELATED:  10 Intense Zombie-Infested Thrillers To Watch If You Like 28 Days Later

Why was that zombie silent until it appeared onscreen? Does that girl have zero peripheral vision, cause that Walker was an inch to the left. Did that one teleport into that corner cause who the hell knows how it got your neck into its maw before we heard anything? The cheapest trick and as brainless as they are.

6 Immortal: Slow Burn Turn

This one stings every time. Whether the bite is hidden or revealed immediately, the group suddenly has a whole extra turmoil to sort out with no happy answers. Infinitely distressing because it always happens to the kid with a future, the mother with a kid, the coward who can’t rationalize his practical death. So many other permutations on top of those all combine into the worst situation imaginable. Moral questions arise, practical ones, and all while someone has to stand there and hear strangers or their loved ones talk about them like they’re already dead. The clock is ticking, and everyone watching is riveted. The zombie version of Hitchcock’s ‘bomb under the table’.

5 Braindead: Dead Isn’t Dead Enough

Follow the rules and Double Tap! That pregnant pause when a character takes that premature sigh of relief while the entire audience is yelling at the screen to watch out! Relying on this trope is a sign of the most basic zombie set up and you should lower expectations when it pops up.

RELATED: George A. Romero’s Zombie Movies Ranked, Worst to Best

At this point, the entire planet is fully aware of what to do when confronted with bitey dead things and the first rule should be not to stop until it’s super-mega-dead for sure. If the character you like is dumb enough to stand with bare ankles next to a twitching, not quite dead flesh-eater, feel free to rescind your liking status.

4 Immortal: Badass Weapons

Any self-respecting zombie movie has a signature badass weapon. Usually, a few already badass things combined with the ever-reliable duct-tape. Expect the hero to stand silhouetted in a doorway carrying this bad boy, looking damn near majestic. From katana-dynamites, to shotgun-shovels, to chainsaw-molotov cocktails, to high-heel-bowie knives, to pool cue-morning stars, anything-plus-anything-else kicks butt. If your favorite survivor finds the ‘awesome combo of weapons’ cupboard, expect things to get multiplied by awesome.

3 Braindead: He’s Just A Little Corpsey…

This is the dumb cousin of the Slow Burn Turn. Keeping a fully turned zombified child, lover, parent, friend, pet, or Pokémon on hand and blithely complaining to your group that they’re ‘gonna be okay smacks of idiocy and denial (unless that’s the point). When zombies are bashing down your door and you’re holding another one’s hand, you’ve got issues about being alone.

RELATED: The 5 Scariest Zombie Films (And The 5 Funniest)

Since you just can’t let go, you’re almost certainly causing someone else to be dinner. When this crops up everyone knows there’s only going to be dumbness for the next few minutes until things resolve, obviously for the worse.

2 Immortal: Life Or Limb

The only thing more dramatic and fueled with intensity than deciding if you need to kill someone whose been bitten is whether you can risk separating a bitten limb and hoping for a miracle. More often than not an arm or hand, but legs can happen too, those precious moments between infection and controlling the spread with a saw or an ax can hinge everyone’s survival on them. Under threat from outside, and now potentially from the inside, what would you do? What could you do to someone else? Don’t think long, cause someone’s tum-tum might begin a-rumblin’…

1 Braindead: Dumpster Dive Dupe

The impossible escape that you just can’t buy. Now and then a hero we’ve come to love will find themselves in a situation where there really is no way out. You see the walls closing in, the flailing arms and snapping jaws, and you brace yourself for the inevitable. And then, they’re gone. You saw them fall down into the pile, or to the ground, and there was blood and screaming and everything. It’s over. They got got. They have ceased to be. They are an ex-protagonist.

Except they didn’t because they hid under another body, or a panel in the floor swallowed them to safety, or they merely ‘thought they were a goner’ when they turn up three scenes later as a jump-scare fakeout with little-to-zero explanation. If the goal is to make an audience yell “Oh, come on!” in frustration at the screen, then, by all means, keep digging up this DOA cliche.

NEXT: 12 Best Zombie Movies of All Time


2020-01-01 03:01:43

Mik Rona

5 Christmas Movie Tropes We Love (& 5 We Hate) | ScreenRant

Some themes seem to be a common occurrence in films during the holiday season. The focus is set on a few topics year after year that connect back to Christmas. Several of these are a part of our favorite Christmas films, but others we feel are a bit overdone.

RELATED: 5 Best & 5 Worst Hallmark Christmas Movies

We have laid out some popular tropes that seem to come up during the holiday season and have been incorporated into classic films. Some have been turned into Christmas magic, while others fall short of the mark. Keep reading to learn about five Christmas movie tropes we love and five we hate.

10 LOVE: Christmas Magic

Several movies rely on the trope of Christmas magic, and it is something we all love to see. It brings us back to our childhood when Santa was real and flying reindeer did exist, as we remember that Christmas was a time for fantasies to come true.

There might be bills to pay and personal problems to handle during this season, but these movies remind us what Christmas is all about. We can look at films like The Santa Clause series and The Polar Express to add some of this magic to our holidays this year.

9 HATE: Christmas Needs To Be Saved

It always seems like something has gone wrong with Christmas in holiday movies and it constantly leads back to Santa. He has been delivering presents for hundreds of years with his elves, and yet, this year everything goes wrong. It doesn’t make any sense that such a flawless system would suddenly develop several issues during one holiday. There are some good movies with this trope like Fred Claus and Noelle, but for the most part, this is a holiday plot that is way overdone in movies.

8 LOVE: Miracles Happen During The Holidays

Some people might say that this coincides with magic, but we have to disagree. A Christmas miracle is something that has a one-in-a-million chance of happening, and yet it still does. There is no magic involved except for the joy of the holidays bringing people together and solving problems.

They make us believe that everything can fall into place even though it all looks like it is falling apart. There are so many movies to watch, like Home Alone, Love Actually, and The Holiday, that are just a few examples of this trope at its finest.

7 HATE: Focus On An Adorably Sweet Child

We do tend to associate Christmas with children, but that doesn’t mean that every movie has to feature a precocious kid. There are naughty and nice children, and the children in these movies are not showing their true colors. Cindy Lou Who might have helped the Grinch, but it is unrealistic to assume she acts that sweet and innocent all the time.

RELATED: 10 Best Hallmark Christmas Movies, According To IMDb

There are other films where children’s actions and demeanors are too twee to handle, and we are overwhelmed by their presence. This doesn’t mean we hate children in all movies, but it is a trope that we feel filmmakers try a bit too hard to make work.

6 LOVE: Christmas Brings Love

There are several different types of love like agape, eros, and philia. Christmas movies cover them all, and it is a trope that we love to see in these films year after year. There are so many ways to spin the stories and different groups to focus on.

We discover what it means to share the holidays with family, friends, and significant others. One of the newest movies to come out with this trope is called Last Christmas, but some other older films include Four Christmases, A Christmas Carol, and A Christmas Prince.

5 HATE: Putting On A Holiday Show

The holidays bring about a lot of productions and shows, but this is one trope we would like left out of the movies. These types of movies are only good if they are done well, and often the writers like to cut corners. But it’s precisely these kind of sequences that need to have an excellent score and a storyline that keeps viewers interested. This is one trope we would like to see left off of the big screen unless filmmakers are ready to put in the time and effort to make it win more than a few awards.

4 LOVE: Family Is The Only Gift You Need

Many people focus on the gifts they give or receive during the holiday season, but we often forget what the holidays are really about. The focus should be on family and spending time with the ones you love, rather than complaining because you weren’t gifted everything on your Christmas list.

RELATED: 10 Best Hallmark Christmas Movie Actresses, Ranked

These films help us regain a perspective on what the holidays are all about and there are few that we don’t like. Some of the movies we recommend with this trope include The Santa Clause, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Elf.

3 HATE: Overdecorating

Some movies put a focus on decorating for the holidays and taking it to the next level. But many families don’t have the time or money to go all-out every year like the rest of the block, and these film only make them feel worse about it.

There shouldn’t be such a big emphasis on this small part of Christmas when so many other things matter more. It is not to say that Christmas with the Kranks isn’t a great movie, but this trope is one we would rather avoid over the holidays.

2 LOVE: The Holidays Are Horrible

There are so many Scrooges out in the world who hate the holidays and we love the movies that expose them. It shows the many reasons why people choose to skip Christmas altogether whether it’s family, a personal preference, or just their attitude toward life in general.

We love to watch as they transform into holiday-loving human beings because their character arcs seem more in-depth than some other tropes we see during the holidays. There are so many perspectives that can use this thinking, which is why this is a trope that will never grow old.

1 HATE: The Attempt To Save Something

This might be the most common trope involved in holiday movies, as the characters in the films work together to save something. This is usually a place that is beloved by the community that some mogul is trying to tear down and develop. Others focus on the job aspect as they try and keep everyone employed despite the lack of profits made by the business.

These usually end with someone falling in love and the beloved something being saved from permanent destruction all because the season happens to be Christmas. It has grown quite tiresome over the years and it is one trope we would like to never see again.

NEXT: 10 Nightmare Before Christmas Gifts That Every Fan Wants


2019-12-23 01:12:54

Rebecca Knauss

5 Tropes From 80s Action Movies That We Miss (& 5 That We Don’t)

Not everything from the 80s is a fashion catastrophe or politically incorrect nightmare. You only have to watch Stranger Things to see the tremendous value in a lot of that decade’s trends to confirm that. When it comes to movies though, a lot of tropes, conventions, and storytelling devices have been left on the side of the road, rarely used and even forgotten.

RELATED: 10 Most Culturally Influential Movies Of The 1980s

Some were rightly abandoned because there’s only so much time you can spend devoted to explaining the “nuance” of a thing before it becomes not worth it. Others deserve not only a resurrection but a resurgence into the mainstream. Here are the 80’s best and worst that we either miss or wish we couldn’t remember.

10 Don’t: Uninteresting Love Interest

The unwanted child of bad executive meddling resulted in this paper-thin attempt to bring in the female demographic. For some very condescending reasons, studios would insist that to bring in female movie-goers there had to be a female love interest involved in almost every action movie. The best action movies didn’t need one, like Predator, or incorporated them as integral story elements, like Terminator. For every good one, there were twenty terrible ones, and we never want to see that type of one-dimensional character waste our time again. You’re interrupting the explosions, lady!

9 Do: The Prophecy

It seemed for a time like almost every action hero was involved somehow in a prophecy, or a foretold future, or something historical. Nowadays, most heroes are thrust into the fight by severe circumstances and while there’s nothing wrong with that, even Star Wars is burning its traditions at this point.

RELATED: Ranked: 10 Scariest ’80s Sci-Fi Movie Monsters

The closest we’ve come to a quality prophetical hero recently is Harry Potter and a phoenix core wand can’t really hold up to a Winchester, no matter how many inches. If an original hero story comes along with a good old prophecy and Chosen One enough time has passed that we’re ready to go with it.

8 Don’t: I’m Not From Here! Look At My Crazy Passport!

It should go without saying at this point, but then someone botches it up and it needs saying all over again. Shelve the “bad guys are bad because they aren’t from here” stories. The token foreigner who “must be bad because… accent” holds no water anymore and is too basic for anyone to believe. The best bad guys often hit close to home. Look at the MCU, where the more foreign seeming enemies like in the Iron Man and Thor sequels ended up especially forgettable. Then check out Loki, Thanos, and Killmonger who all came from close to home, and were characters we loved proving to be far superior foes.

7 Do: Awesome Henchbros

One of the unsung heroes (villains) of the action 80s was the amazing second-bananas in the evil hierarchies. Hans Gruber had Karl, Dick Jones had Clarence Boddicker, and who could forget loyal, dependable, Joker’s “Number One!”, Bob. These types of quirky, reveling in violence, characters need to make a comeback.

RELATED: Yippee-Ki-Yay: 10 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Die Hard

The trick was that they were almost as big a threat to the hero at certain points as the main villain but differentiated in particular ways. Karl was erratic to Hans’ cool. Boddicker loved getting his hands dirty while Jones worked from the boardroom. Bob was predictable while Joker was a loose live-wire on a timebomb. They only exist to improve movies, and that never needed to change.

6 Don’t: I Was On Vacation/Retiring!

For a minute it seemed like every action hero specifically got into situations only when off the clock. Something apparently scheduled their dates with destiny only when they had tickets booked for a trip or to celebrate getting that gold watch for retiring and it’s lame. The proven example is the last Die Hard where cranky, surly John McClane’s dialogue amounted to “I was on vacation” no matter how many missiles he avoided and it got old and bitter quicker than he has.

5 Do: Smoke Em If You Got Em

Due to various petition groups and a general sense of wanting to limit exposure, drugs/smoking have largely disappeared from mainstream action movies, but they shouldn’t stay gone. Some of the best villains and even a few heroes were completely off their heads and it adds a nice volatile element to what can become routine proceedings.

RELATED: 10 Fast-Paced Action Thrillers To Watch If You Like The John Wick Franchise

The Dredd film that introduced the beautifully cinematic Slo-Mo drug is the closest we’ve come to this lately and it shows exactly why these mind-bending “medicinals” still have their place when bullets begin flying.

4 Don’t: Bring A Rookie To Die

The Expendables and DOOM tried this and it hasn’t worked since the 80s for good reason. Something about a fresh-faced, bright-eyed, never-not-nicknamed “Rook” or “The Kid” being used as an exposition tool and “things just got serious” early death is thoroughly played out. The panicky, twitchy soldier among the seasoned vets never rang true anyway. They were always on an obvious countdown to getting blown away and when they crop up now everyone just checks their watch out of frustration.

3 Do: Training Montage

There’s a reason that this trope cropped up in nearly every movie for a while and it’s because there’s nothing quite like watching someone gear up/get buff/set traps to appropriate music. This element is like the downhill rush on the rollercoaster, right before you enter the loops and twists of the climactic battle/race/court decision etc… It’s the affirmation of the hero’s badass progression. Their ascension towards the throne.

RELATED: Best Action Movies Of The Decade

Their preparation for victory or death. It speaks to us in a primal, wordless pulse and it only got put on the back burner because it was overused and exploited. With proper restraint, these could come back and absolutely reclaim their place at the peak of action tropes.

2 Don’t: Ain’t Got Time To Bleed/Die/Show Pain

The invincible hero was awesome and fun for its time but unless you ham it up, modern cinema-goers can’t buy it.  When thousands of bullets are deemed useless how can anyone buy the danger and therefore invest in the action? Ironically the original Die Hard proved this best only for the most recent ones to fail the lesson. Some of the most awesome modern action heroes like Taken‘s Brian Mills or John Wick’s….. John Wick displayed supreme skillsets, preparation, armor, and still remembered to look haggard and beaten down when it mattered. There’s always time to bleed.

1 Do: The One Liner

It couldn’t be anything else, could it? They aren’t strictly speaking dead but they are too few and far between for how much they can enlarge a movie’s badass quotient. Only the stoic John Wick has dabbled with them recently, and he’s laconic at the best of times. Also, “Consider this a professional courtesy” isn’t quite cheesy enough to fill the hole in our hearts for the classic quip. Even Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is more likely to spew an entire withering barrage than stick to a short, devastating pun and he’s surely the prime candidate to revive the art. After all, the man made his bones in the land of catchphrases and has a knack for getting entire arenas to chant anything even slightly fun that escapes his lips. So, for the good of everyone, Dear Dwayne, we would like to smell what you’re cooking, preferably in the form of some seismic one-liners, please.

NEXT: 10 Worst Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Movies (According To Rotten Tomatoes)


2019-12-21 02:12:25

Mik Rona

5 Exorcism Movie Tropes That Are Timeless (& 5 That Need To Be Exorcised)

The exorcism. Is there any scene that doesn’t ring truer of the horror genre than that? It’s pretty much universally terrifying, and thanks to 1973’s The Exorcist, it has become a Hollywood standard.

RELATED: 10 Most Terrifying Exorcism Movies Of All Time

As with all horror films, this genre is prone to some serious tropes that fill every release. Some of them are terrifying, well-done and produce exceptional results pretty much every time they appear. Some of them are overused, lackluster, and rarely work well. We’ve collected five of the best and five of the worst.

10 Timeless: It’s A Child Being Exorcised

Children are scary. Try and think of the absolute scariest film you can. There’s a child involved in some way, right? Whether it’s as a vulnerable main character who you can relate to through your own childhood fears, or it’s a creepy face at the end of a hallway.

RELATED: 5 Cliches From 80s Horror Movies That Are Classics (& 5 That Are Not)

By centering exorcism films on a child, we automatically feel more sympathy and a whole lot more fear. They don’t know what’s happening to them, and when they get possessed and turn into a creepy, doll-like plaything for the devil, we’re straight behind the sofa.

9 Exorcised: It’s An Adult

Adults aren’t that scary. They know what a demon is, and they have an understanding of exorcisms to a certain degree. Basically, get over yourself, adult. Well, it isn’t quite that simple, I imagine being exorcised is pretty scary no matter your age, but it just doesn’t have the same effect when it’s not an innocent child at the receiving end of the devil’s games. Just take a look at The Devil Inside or The Conjuring. The central scenes don’t have the same impact on us as they do when its Regan or Nell having a demon pulled from within them.

8 Timeless: A Priest Comes To Help Out

In a lot of cases, priests make for pretty cool characters. Even in some pretty poor films like The Rite (2011), the priest (in this case, a very on-form Anthony Hopkins) is ominous in one of his stand out roles. Their confidence and power always provide an interesting edge, and their ability to run headfirst into the terrifying scene of the exorcisms they face is never really commended enough. Pretty much every exorcism film is forced to have a priest in it by default, but, luckily, it works. Obviously, not every time; if the film is bad, then the priest is pretty likely to be bad. But, in general, it’s a good trope.

7 Exorcised: The Priest Is The Devil As Well

One of the main reasons I mentioned The Rite above is because it does exactly this. By the end of the film (spoiler alert), Anthony Hopkins himself becomes possessed. The very man trying to save those who are possessed gets possessed himself. Who will help him?! It’s a nice twist, but it’s the sort of twist you can only do once, like ‘I am your father’ or ‘he was dead the whole time.’ Maybe it isn’t quite common enough to be classified as a trope, but, given its already been done a fair few times, maybe just avoid this one from now on, yeah?

6 Timeless: The Torturous Movements

Nothing is more convincing of true fear and pain than the torturous, anguished movements made by some of those we see having a demon exorcised out of them.

RELATED: The Exorcist: 10 More Hidden Details You Never Noticed In The Horror Masterpiece

We’ve seen it happen in The Last Exorcism and The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, in which the lead actresses both contort themselves in various grotesque ways, and it works wonders in creating a believable sense of possession. These scenes are completely natural and real, giving a disturbing edge to the performances. Having said this, it works best, perhaps, in The Exorcist, where the horrifying ‘spiderwalk’ scene (which wasn’t even in the original release) looks completely and utterly unnatural and totally demonic. Terrifying stuff.

5 Exorcised: The Bell, Book, and Candle

Pretty much every exorcism film we see has three classic items, a bell, a book, and a candle. When you’re absorbed in the tension and thrill of a horror film, these are perfectly fine and you can get over it.

If you consider it for too long, you might start to ask yourself why they’re there. Well, they shouldn’t be. These items are actually part of the ritual of ex-communication, which is where someone is suspended from receiving the services of their church. No supernatural elements involved here, just some weird passive-aggressive stuff.

4 Timeless: Chanting In Latin

The beauty of the Latin chant is that almost no one can understand what it means. By default, we avoid any of the cringe-inducing chants that use words we actually understand and *every single time without fail* makes us laugh instead of shiver.

RELATED: 5 Reasons Why the Warrens Are The Best Movie Exorcists (& 5 Why They’re Not)

Latin is pretty creepy anyway, what with its association with the devil and the jagged, inherently scary words and phrases found in its lexicon. A sure-fire way to avoid a disappointing interaction with a demon- keep them talking in Latin. We don’t need to understand what they’re saying!

3 Exorcised: When The Demon Speaks Through Their Subject

The Exorcist did it perfectly. We didn’t need it to happen again, because it was never going to be as good. Some of the things Pazuzu has Regan say are horrific and remain horrifying to this day, but, when you watch it happen in any other horror film since, it just doesn’t have the same effect.

Seeing a child with a weird, distorted deep voice has been done so many times that rather than seeming scary, it seems totally expected. Like you’re supposed to sign some sort of form stating ‘I will make the subject of my exorcism speak in a deep demon voice’ when you start directing a horror film.

2 Timeless: Jump Scares

Say what you like about jump scares. Tacky. Easy. Boring. They’re still scary. Sure, sometimes they don’t work at all, and sometimes they’re overused, but the jump scare is still one of the finest tools in a horror director’s arsenal.

RELATED: The 10 Biggest Jump Scares In Horror Movie History, Ranked

Remember in The Exorcist III where the nurse gets sprung upon? Or in The Conjuring where the witch-like thing is on the wardrobe? While exorcism films shouldn’t be ruined by over pollinating themselves with jump scares that replace suspense, if you truly want to scare your audience, position them wisely and keep them coming.

1 Exorcised: Copying The Exorcist

Once The Exorcist was released in 1973 (and became the first Oscar-nominated horror film), there were bound to be a lot of copycat films lurking about. Just the 1970s led us to many, including The Antichrist (1974), Exorcismo (1974) and The Possessed (1977).

Even though the latter featured Harrison Ford, none of them could hold a candle to The Exorcist. Sure, take influence, but stop trying to rip it off, it won’t work! This fad turned the entire concept of The Exorcist and its storyline into a trope itself.

NEXT: 10 Creepy Horror Movies Inspired by True Stories


2019-12-14 01:12:16

Dan Peeke

5 Best Timeless Tropes In Horror Movies (& 5 That Need To Die)

Even though horror movies are unique and each have their own plot and characters, there are a lot of tropes that many horror movies share. These tropes are so common among so many horror movies because, over the past several decades, they’ve been what has been proven to scare us. These tropes are mixed together in horror movies to create the most terrifying and suspenseful experience that filmmakers can create… Usually.

RELATED: 10 Lamest Werewolves in Movie History

While most tropes are really scary and cool and can be used in unique ways, there are some that we’re just tired of. For every really awesome, well-used trope in a horror movie, there are at least a few that need to die faster than someone who goes to investigate a strange noise. They may have been scary the first few times we saw them, but it’s getting old.

10 Timeless: Found Footage Style

The found footage style of horror movies is truly terrifying. Although it became super famous with the release of The Blair Witch Project back in the late 1990s, it’s become a staple in the world of horror movies since then. It presents itself as amateur footage that one of the characters filmed.

Although this style of movie has been used in countless movies over the years, it’s one style of movie that we’re definitely not tired of yet. Movies like the Paranormal Activity franchise and Unfriended prove that filmmakers still know how to use this style of movie to terrify audiences.

9 Die: Running Up The Stairs

It’s time to kill off the “running up the stairs from the killer” scene from modern horror movies. Yes, it’s creepy. Yes, it gives the filmmakers a good reason to have the main character trip and fall and let the killer come closer to them without it seeming too contrived.

RELATED: 10 Horror Classics That Are Actually Worth Owning On Blu-Ray

But at this point, we’ve seen enough characters stupidly run upstairs to try to escape the killer after them that it just doesn’t build the same kind of suspense anymore. Creepy stairways into a dark basement are still terrifying, but there’s nothing lamer than watching our main character screaming as they run up the stairs to try to hide.

8 Timeless: Constant, Lurking Evil

There are a lot of different things that make horror movies scary. Having the killer pop out from behind a door out of nowhere when the main character thought they were safe is creepy, sure. But, there’s a trope that builds even better suspense than having the character think they had finally gotten away.

Movies like It Follows, The Ring, and The Babadook build suspense throughout the movie by never giving the illusion that the characters are safe. This feeling that there’s constantly some kind of evil force, lurking behind every door and around every corner makes it hard to relax while watching the movie and causes us to grow more and more nervous with every scene.

7 Die: The Boyfriend Is The Killer

It was cool and surprising when Billy Loomis turned out to be Ghostface, but few movies have successfully pulled off this plot twist since Scream. Having the entire movie build Billy up as Sidney’s caring boyfriend, only to have him reveal that he and Stu were behind Ghostface all along was a terrifying turn of events.

RELATED: The 10 Best New Horror Movie Characters Of The Decade, Ranked

Since then, there have been a lot of movies and TV shows that have tried to have similar reveals. Aside from Scream 4 twisting this trope with Jill’s attempt to frame her boyfriend and become the next Sidney Prescott, none of them have been particularly successful. Having a movie show off this cute, caring relationship between two characters only to have the boyfriend turn out to be evil is getting tired.

6 Timeless: Mirror Jumpscares

Although having mirror-based jump scares may be totally played out to some, we think this trope is one that is here to stay. Mirrors have been the source of a lot of superstition for a long time. From the idea that breaking a mirror brings bad luck, rituals like Bloody Mary, to the Victorian era tradition of using a mirror to see your future husband, mirrors have a long history of being used in creepy ways.

So, when movies like Oculus come out and the villain of the movie is a haunted mirror, we’re on board. Whether the movie is entirely based around a mysterious, possessed mirror or it’s simply a scene where someone appears in the mirror after the character shuts the medicine cabinet, this is one trope we’re into.

5 Die: Ancient, Elaborate Mythology (That’s Easy To Research)

Every horror movie has to have something scary about it. For some movies, it’s a serial killer on the loose that seems to be after the main character. For other movies, it’s a mysterious, ancient curse that wakes up at the beginning of the movie and the main character has to find out what it is and how to stop it before it’s too late.

RELATED: 10 Scariest 2000s Horror Movie Monsters, Ranked

Although these ancient, creepy curses that get placed on the main character can be creepy, we can’t deny that this trope is a little played out. It’s so un-creative and unrealistic to see the main character use a search engine, type in exactly what’s happening to them, and find a website that details every single detail about this obscure, elaborate mythology.

4 Timeless: Creepy Kids

A lot of horror movie villains are adults and monsters, but there are also a ton of horror movies that focus on creepy kids. From The Shining to Pet Sematary and The Sixth Sense, kids in horror movies definitely know how to be scary.

Kids in horror movies can either be the spooky villain that’s after the main character or characters, or they can simply be one of the innocent characters that seems to know way too much about what’s going on. Either way, the creepy children that appear in horror movies are definitely a trope we hope sticks around.

3 Die: No Cell Service

In every horror movie, it seems like the main character’s cell phone service is out right when they need to call someone. We’ll be screaming at the TV for them to call the police and when they finally listen and pull out their phone… No service.

We get that this builds suspense and the fact that it makes the main character somewhat helpless against the evil that’s after them is terrifying, it’s just not believable anymore. Modern cell phones are pretty reliable, unless the movie takes place in the middle of nowhere, the idea that they’ll just coincidentally lose service when they need it is tough to believe.

2 Timeless: The Final Girl

The “Final Girl” is a horror movie trope that has existed since about the 1970s. It’s the main character in many horror movies that survives to the end of the film after all her friends, classmates, and family members have been taken out by the villain of the film.

RELATED: The 10 Worst Horror Movies Of The Decade (According To Rotten Tomatoes)

Notable examples of Final Girls in horror movies include Mari from The Last House on the Left, Sidney from Scream, and Tree from Happy Death Day. We love this trope because it’s always fun to see the main character come out on top and save herself from the killer… Even if they mysteriously get up and disappear, opening the film up for a sequel.

1 Die: Using Other Cultures For Creeps

This last trope that we’re tired of is one that can be pretty complicated. It can be used in a really successful way, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s one we want to see more of. Movies like Truth or Dare and The Grudge are undeniably eerie, this trope is still tired.

Using myths and legends from other cultures simply to scare the main characters is something that’s getting pretty old. Although we can’t deny that they’re definitely creepy and worth having a movie about them, why not set the movie in that country and cast people from there instead of simply using their stories for scares?

NEXT: 10 Most Terrifying Ghosts in Horror Movie History


2019-12-08 03:12:16

Lacey Womack

Hallmark Christmas Movies: 5 Best & Worst Tropes (We Can’t Believe They Reuse)

The holiday season is preceded by Christmas decorations going up in craft stores by October, eggnog cartons lining the grocery shelves in November, and the promise of all new Hallmark Christmas movies to binge on TV come December. Over the decades that Hallmark has been in the business of professional merry-making, they’ve generated dozens (if not hundreds) of films focused on the meaning of Christmas. These films are full of beautiful looking people, festive looking set pieces, and the same tried-and-true tropes year after year.

Some of the tropes are successful because they’re relatable; everyone likes seeing corporate greed demolished by the moxie of a small town known for its Christmas cookie-cutter factory. Some of the tropes are played out because they’re boring; no one wants to see one more movie about opposites attracting under the mistletoe. Here are the 5 best and worst tropes (we can’t believe they reuse).

10 BEST: LEARNING THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

One of the most common tropes in all Hallmark Christmas movies is also their main message; learning the meaning of Christmas. This happens in a variety of ways, from entitled heiresses suddenly learning that material gifts aren’t what’s important about the season, to high powered CEOs realizing that it’s their employees, not their profits, that make the season bountiful.

The films work as vehicles for the main protagonist to “come around” to what the season is all about, in a way that fits the particular narrative of the plot. The plots may vary, but the message remains the same, which is what makes them the perfect films to get you in the spirit.

RELATED: 10 Best Christmas Movies Of The 2010s

9 WORST: CORPORATE SHILL TOO BUSY FOR CHRISTMAS

Whether it’s an operations manager at an ice-skating rink, the lead window display designer at a department store, or an advertising executive at a marketing firm,there’s always some corporate-minded shill too busy for Christmas in a Hallmark movie.

They’ll start off over-worked, overly-ambitious, and completely consumed by their job to the point of eschewing all participation in the Christmas spirit. That is, until they meet someone (usually their love interest) that reminds them what the holidays are all about. By the end of the film, they’re a true believer, and we’ve just wasted more time on an over-used plot device.

8 BEST: REGULAR PERSON HOOKS UP WITH A ROYAL

One of the most fun tropes that Hallmark plays around with is the idea of a regular person having a run-in with a royal that leads to romance. The royal is usually from a very small Eastern European country that no one’s heard of, and usually puts the needs of their country before their own Christmas cheer.

The regular person will then have the enviable task of making this royal see reason, by going on a variety of fun Christmas outings involving craft fairs, ice-skating, tree-trimming, and the like. The royal is always drop-dead gorgeous, and admires the regular person’s “authentic attitude”.Would this happen in real life? Probably not, but by the end of the film the regular person gets a huge palace and the best Christmas ever.

RELATED: 10 Most Common Tropes in Hallmark Christmas Movies

7 WORST: HUGE PAGEANT/PROJECT/OPENING MAKES OR BREAKS CHRISTMAS

The Christmas pageant has no money. The rescue shelter is about to close. The opening of the mom and pop Christmas cookie shop is going to bankrupt the business. The trope of the huge pageant/project/opening deciding the fate of the holiday is the “untangling Christmas tree lights” of Hallmark tropes.

These plots are always stressful, and they feature characters that don’t slow down until the film is almost over. Where some see a delightful dash towards a festive finish line, others are exhausted just trying to keep pace with these Type-A personalities. We KNOW they’re going to succeed in the end, so it takes all the suspense out of it.

6 BEST: SMALL TOWN RALLIES AGAINST BIG CORPORATE GREED

We’ve all seen the blurb on the screen of our favorite streaming service; “small town, once renowned for (insert Christmas craft here) has to find a way to save Christmas before its taken over by a big corporate company moving in”, or “small town ski-lodge about to be bought by corporate shill looking to profit off its charm must be saved by Christmas loving locals”.

Whether the town was famous for Christmas decorations, had a popular candy factor, or once was home to the biggest ski resort in the state, it needs the community to pull together in the face of mindless consumerism. It might seem played out but it’s fun to stick it to The Man at Christmas.

5 WORST: TWO UNLIKELY PEOPLE SUDDENLY ATTRACTED TO ONE ANOTHER

Possibly the most played out trope in all of Hallmark Christmas movies, two unlikely people becoming inexplicably attracted to one another dominates holiday films every year for no good reason. It’s how you get plots like a free-spirited interior decorator being hired by a no-nonsense businessman, impressing his new boss with a holiday-ready house that somehow means the two polar opposites fall in love by Christmas. 

Perhaps it warms viewers’ hearts to see a ball-busting city slicker fall for an easy-going country bumpkin, but the films always end before they find out whether or not the relationship was a success. More often than not, they’re broken up or divorced by the following Christmas.

RELATED: 10 Weirdest Ways Couples Meet In Hallmark Christmas Movies

4 BEST: IDYLLIC LITTLE CHRISTMAS TOWNS

There’s something magical about the little communities that make up Smalltown, USA, especially at Christmas. Hallmark Christmas movies pretty much consistently push the idea that small towns do Christmas the best, and it’s hard to argue when they feature in holiday films looking like little gingerbread villages.

“The city” is often represented as a busy, aggressive place where its inhabitants have lost the spirit of Christmas. No one helps their neighbor, no one is kind to strangers, and so a small town, with its close-knit townsfolk always willing to lend a helping hand, represents the best of human kindness. At least small towns decorated for Christmas make for beautiful scenery even if the acting is horrible.

3 WORST: KID JUST WANTS A NEW MOMMY/DADDY FOR CHRISTMAS

Kids are often thrown into Hallmark films to add childlike innocence and a certain “cute factor”, as well as comic relief when the plot gets a little too depressing for a family-friendly film. They’re also the focal point, such as in the trope of one of them wanting a mommy or daddy for Christmas in lieu of the latest cool toy.

These tropes all but ensure the film is going to be a real tear-jerker, borrowing a page from Lifetime’s movie of the week and filling the plot with orphans, abandonment issues, and other sad situations before you get to the fun stuff. Don’t watch them unless all you want is a lifetime supply of Kleenex for Christmas.

2 BEST: MISTAKEN IDENTITIES

Whether it involves two twins swapping lifestyles to spend a day in the life of their sibling, or one character being mistaken for another in a hilarious romantic mix-up, mistaken identity tropes are a fun way to make ordinarily predictable Hallmark Christmas movies slightly less so. The viewer is the one holding all the cards when it comes to knowing who’s who.

The mistaken identity trope ensures that the movie will be satirical and funny, with characters making complete fools of themselves. This is generally favorable considering most Hallmark Christmas films have a tendency to take themselves way too seriously. Who do they think they are, Lifetime?

RELATED: 10 Lifetime Original Movies That Are Actually Good

1 WORST: PERSON RETURNS TO HOMETOWN THEY USED TO HATE

Most people leave the small town they grew up for a variety of reasons. Often they want to get away from everyone they know keeping tabs on their business, or pursue greater opportunities in a bigger metropolitan environment. But then Christmas has other plans, and invariably pulls them back to their hometown.

Whether they get divorced, lose their job, or just need a break from their fast-paced lifestyle, they end up back at home, forced to appreciate everything they left behind because Christmas said so. Not only is this rarely the case in real life, but also almost no one’s home town looks like a small town from a Hallmark Christmas movie.

NEXT: 5 Best & 5 Worst Hallmark Christmas Movies


2019-11-09 05:11:11

Kayleena Pierce-Bohen