These days, everyone knows the rules of how to survive a horror movie – and no one’s ever laid them out quite as succinctly as Randy Meeks in the Scream franchise, as played by Jamie Kennedy.
But now that every horror movie trope has been done to death (pun intended) about a hundred times, do Randy’s words still carry any weight? Recently, the genre has begun to subvert itself, making horror movies less safe than they had become when Scream came along to parody horror — so watch Kennedy spell out the rules and then you’re safe, right? Right?
False: Sex = Death
While it’s true that the “Final Girl” — the term generally given to the (usually female) character who makes it to the end — is often much more virginal and modest than the rest of the doomed teenagers in a horror movie’s line-up, that doesn’t mean it’s IMPOSSIBLE to survive a slasher flick if you have sex. Scream itself subverts this idea when Sidney (Neve Campbell) has sex with her boyfriend Billy (Skeet Ulrich), who later turns out to be one of the killers.
Other notable examples: Sarah Connor makes it to the end of Terminator despite making a revolution-leading baby with Kyle Reese earlier in the movie (although her roommate isn’t so lucky after sleeping with HER boyfriend). In the trope-defining 1974 movie Black Christmas, leading lady Jess is seeking an abortion to terminate her pregnancy. And in a Brittany Murphy movie from 2000, Cherry Falls, the killer exclusively targets virgins — so they’re not safe anymore, either. Than again, we knew that from the Scream 4 trailer, didn’t we?
True: Don’t Drink Or Do Drugs
Another one subverted by Scream — after all, Jamie Kennedy’s giving his rules speech during a party where EVERYONE is drinking. But he’s right in thinking that often, slasher movies serve as morality plays, which means a lot of rebellious teenagers — ESPECIALLY the loveable stoner types — end up getting horribly murdered.
However, there are some exceptions: if the innocent Final Girl is doing drugs for the first time (like in Halloween when Jamie Lee Curtis doesn’t know how to smoke pot), then she’s usually okay. Stoners are also much more likely to survive in deliberately genre-subverting horror-comedies — like Shorty (Marlon Wayans) from Scary Movie or Marty (Fran Kranz) from Cabin In The Woods.
True: Never Say “I’ll Be Right Back”
As far as we can tell, this one is mostly legit — except for in the Paranormal Activity movies. Not only do teenagers have sex and smoke weed in Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, but they say stuff like, “I’ll be right back,” ALL THE TIME. Of course, this being a Paranormal Activity movie, they’re all dead anyway… So it’s more of a delayed reaction than an instant fate-sealer in that case.
True: Sequels Are Always Bigger and Bloodier
Come on, of COURSE this one is true. With the exception of direct-to-video sequels, the second movie in a franchise ALWAYS has to be more extreme than the movie it comes from. Friday the 13th upped the stakes by bringing back the real Jason Vorhees. Evil Dead 2 gave its hero Ash a CHAINSAW FOR A HAND. It’s just the groovy thing to do, okay?
False: Sequel Killers Are Basically Superhuman
This trope only really applies to villains who were already supernatural, like Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, the Tall Man, and other iconic horror monsters. Ghostface always has a new identity in every Scream movie, so the murderer in Scream 3 (as played by Scott Foley) doesn’t need to be decapitated and frozen to be subdued. Although, you never know, better safe than sorry.
True: Anyone Can Die In a Sequel
As Randy tells us from beyond the grave in Scream 3, by the time you get a third movie, no one is safe — not the Final Girl from the first flick, not the virgins, and especially not the genre savvy nerd who knows how to defeat the bad guy. Case in point: Friday the 13th part 2 starts with killing off the survivor of the first movie, and Halloween 4 reveals that Jamie Lee Curtis died in a car crash off-screen after surviving Michael Myers twice.
The one character we can think of who’s never been killed off (if you technically don’t count her being cloned after dying 200 years earlier in the fourth movie)? Ripley from Alien. Yup. SigourneyWeaver is one tough lady.