11 Common Horror Motifs
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11 Common Horror Motifs

Creepy and Unsettling

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11 Common Horror Motifs
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Every week my friend and I do our radio show on a movie of our choosing. It's fun but last week's movie got me thinking. The movie was a horror movie, "It Follows". We found a review online about how it was a new type of horror. It was a very interesting article but it got me thinking about what we think is scary. Where exactly does unsettling become scary?

I've always found scary movies with a creepy twist to be more frightening than scary movies with a gory twist. For instance, I know people are bad. However, the idea of being chased by a murderer isn't as scary as the idea of being chased by a cannibal. This is a weird notion because either way someone wants you dead.

I've compiled a list of weirdly unsettling motifs horror movies employ. Some are fairly benign out of context and others are clearly unsettling.


1. Cannibals

Most people don't do this (anymore). It's quite taboo.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F03%2F03%2F6359263507598129451303269918_200.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=719&h=9d36f2bb7a70907b09fb093cbae6f8bac013ef3db7765b56ecc4fc38d4feeea1&size=980x&c=1234944347 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F03%252F03%252F6359263507598129451303269918_200.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D719%26h%3D9d36f2bb7a70907b09fb093cbae6f8bac013ef3db7765b56ecc4fc38d4feeea1%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1234944347%22%7D" expand=1]

2. Slow Moving

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3. Covered Eyes or Face

This lets your imagination wander and build up the terror. Nothing scarier than your imagination.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F03%2F03%2F635926338412491907-1858758519_200.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=252&h=9560695ea6da80a44d6a3227db349235080e3d183449eed442d79cdffc5888b1&size=980x&c=4250847348 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F03%252F03%252F635926338412491907-1858758519_200.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D252%26h%3D9560695ea6da80a44d6a3227db349235080e3d183449eed442d79cdffc5888b1%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4250847348%22%7D" expand=1]

4. Invisible Enemy

You can't fight something you can't see. Not usually.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F03%2F03%2F635926345992257548-1869044084_200.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=414&h=72aac68926d5dfe0c9c2ef2cba63c5f2f82a31bba3038790dff32e49924b5b6c&size=980x&c=1588242461 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F03%252F03%252F635926345992257548-1869044084_200.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D414%26h%3D72aac68926d5dfe0c9c2ef2cba63c5f2f82a31bba3038790dff32e49924b5b6c%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1588242461%22%7D" expand=1]

5. Atypical Human Characteristics

Unusual characteristics are creepy and makes the viewer uneasy as to what to expect.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F03%2F03%2F635926342302409481-1848090623_200.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=560&h=6e3909752d0f2c763778d86a88a4304030189ead3fc2e155df0a17a0bd4516e8&size=980x&c=3476117130 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F03%252F03%252F635926342302409481-1848090623_200.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D560%26h%3D6e3909752d0f2c763778d86a88a4304030189ead3fc2e155df0a17a0bd4516e8%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3476117130%22%7D" expand=1]

6. Quick Movement

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F03%2F03%2F63592634861797936278860456_200.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=282&h=a0940aac4ddaa71a810b408d051ad7d6e840e613def5ccccbaa56220dcf7cf4c&size=980x&c=914216543 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F03%252F03%252F63592634861797936278860456_200.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D282%26h%3Da0940aac4ddaa71a810b408d051ad7d6e840e613def5ccccbaa56220dcf7cf4c%26size%3D980x%26c%3D914216543%22%7D" expand=1]

7. Too Perfect

What's wrong with her? What is she planning?

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F03%2F03%2F635926339686987751844434150_200.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=816&h=3ed6cb35be49ecf06a4476760e7e5ab60434d84050a2e281bc5050c46059fa1e&size=980x&c=4083911893 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F03%252F03%252F635926339686987751844434150_200.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D816%26h%3D3ed6cb35be49ecf06a4476760e7e5ab60434d84050a2e281bc5050c46059fa1e%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4083911893%22%7D" expand=1]

8. No Escape

This is horrifying in itself. A whole movie where the protagonist is trapped in a room. No explanation and no release.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F03%2F03%2F63592635155707318743152994_200.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=650&h=8f349ed726e84bc01991e6e346293ae96a6e59d850431d4ef8b63843cc959f0e&size=980x&c=3327569444 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F03%252F03%252F63592635155707318743152994_200.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D650%26h%3D8f349ed726e84bc01991e6e346293ae96a6e59d850431d4ef8b63843cc959f0e%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3327569444%22%7D" expand=1]

9. Isolation

While #8 means you're physically trapped, #9 means you are psychologically trapped. This is achieved by having the protagonist's credibility diminish. Typically they're put in a situation where authority figures don't believe them and thus cannot help them.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F03%2F03%2F635926356697577433-1192850834_200.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=829&h=30de6461597ece734dd001757b5a82cbdca460f3e2d9a8dbbd0f66b05c3c8489&size=980x&c=291948901 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F03%252F03%252F635926356697577433-1192850834_200.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D829%26h%3D30de6461597ece734dd001757b5a82cbdca460f3e2d9a8dbbd0f66b05c3c8489%26size%3D980x%26c%3D291948901%22%7D" expand=1]

10. Deceiving Innocence

It builds up trust then betrays you.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F03%2F03%2F635926341754276647-1329863583_200.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=210&h=93ef0e3659ff611d927a05e98abe8ec3db0ef78f156bfeac3008648f464dab50&size=980x&c=2506337351 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F03%252F03%252F635926341754276647-1329863583_200.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D210%26h%3D93ef0e3659ff611d927a05e98abe8ec3db0ef78f156bfeac3008648f464dab50%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2506337351%22%7D" expand=1]

11. No End In Sight

The ultimate form of no escape. The fear will always be there, waiting to strike.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F03%2F03%2F635926364168651471-2113004438_200.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=187&h=f9df23ea7337fa56d21b2694718d3ac5c68bdf6f992dca940188d7c1e57d3a4f&size=980x&c=1332831855 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F03%252F03%252F635926364168651471-2113004438_200.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D187%26h%3Df9df23ea7337fa56d21b2694718d3ac5c68bdf6f992dca940188d7c1e57d3a4f%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1332831855%22%7D" expand=1]

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