I want to play a game. No, not one of my horror movie trivia games. I mean an actual game. One you might have played when you were a child. You stand here and count to ten. I’m going to go hide. No? Don’t worry, it’s all in the name of researching horror movie clichés…
This article is going to take a close look at another horror movie cliché; hide-and-seek. Whether it’s the victim trying to avoid being slaughtered, or it’s the killer who’s stalking their prey, this kid’s game seems to be all the rage.
So please, ensure all limbs are in the train at all times. It’s time to run and hide. Catch me if you can!
When it comes to the horror genre, there are a number of clichés that all horror movie fans pick up on. But no one seems to discuss why horror movie villains, and their victims, play a game of hide-and-seek inside the closet or under the bed.
Let’s take a look at some examples, shall we?
Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) had one of the most infamous horror movie moments, hiding in the closet of the master bedroom in John Carpenter’s Halloween. Tying the doorknobs with one of Mr. Doyle’s ties to prevent The Shape from entering, she hid among the dresses.
Michael jiggled the doorknob and eventually began busting through the door in an effort to get to her. Arming herself with a wire hanger, Laurie lunges, poking him in the eye and causing him to drop his knife. Seizing this opportunity, Laurie grabs the knife, stabbing him in the chest.
Upon her return to the franchise 20 years later in Halloween H20, Laurie is running through the school, bleeding as Michael has stabbed her in the arm. She pulls open a door. It’s a closet. “Oh fuck” she exclaims as she checks behind her.
Michael appears and it seems as though he steps pass the closet door, but upon seeing the bloody handprint Laurie left, he makes a lunge for it. Not being able to open it, he starts stabbing through the door until Laurie sneaks up behind him and pummels him with a fire extinguisher to the back of the head.
In Friday the 13th part 2, Ginny hides under the bed, hoping that the new threat to terrorize Crystal Lake won’t find her. A rat causes her to lose control of her bladder momentarily as she cowers against the wall. Just when she thinks the coast is clear, and crawls out from beneath the bunk, Jason strikes with a pitchfork.
But horror movie villains aren’t immune to using these tactics themselves. Michael Myers once hid under the bed in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. He grabbed the leg of his niece, Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris), before crawling out, frightening the little girl. The good news for her was that it was all just a horrible nightmare.
Not to be outdone by that sequence, in Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, Michael watched Rachel Carruthers from the closet as she prepares to leave Haddonfield to meet her parents. Sadly, she never does make that trip. Michael exists his hiding place and, as Rachel is staring at a broken picture frame, he stabs her through the heart with a pair of scissors.
It’s not just Michael that loves to hide. Ghostface from the Scream franchise is also fond of playing hide-and-seek. Even one of his questions to victim Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) was “What door am I at? There are two main doors to your house; the front door and the patio door. If you answer correctly, you live.”
This is one sicko that loves to play. He’s hidden in closets, in body bags, and even in a rack of Ghostface costumes. The list of hiding places is endless for him. Or her. Or them.
In I Know What You Did Last Summer, the Fisherman (Muse Watson) hides in Helen’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) closet as she prepares for bed. Some point during the night, he steps out from his hiding place and proceeds to cut her hair off.
In the sequel, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Muse reprises his role as The Fisherman, but opts to hide under the bed for one final scare.
I recently performed a live tweeting session of the I Know movies to which Muse Watson joined me, divulging information from behind the scenes, and assuring me that I have nothing to fear with him. I had to ask what is with psycho killers and hiding in closets, or under the bed. He did state that he didn’t like being under the bed as it’s not a great vantage point in which to attack your intended target. “It’s more of a Hollywood thing,” he said.
It may be a Hollywood thing; a cliché of horror movies, but it also seems to apply to video games. Friday the 13th: The Game has shown early footage of being able to hide under the bed to avoid Jason. They also showed that it didn’t work out too well for those that tried. In Until Dawn, you have a choice to jump the bed or hide beneath it, however whatever you choose has no bearing on the game outcome. One just means you have a slightly larger head start. Even games like Thief use the hide-and-seek method; allowing the gamer to hide in a closet to avoid detection, or to spring surprise attacks on unsuspecting guards.
So why do both victims and villains play this game?
Leslie Vernon in Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon speaks about the closet being a sacred place and that one simply cannot harm a victim who hides in there, quote “The closet is a sacred place. It’s symbolic of the womb. It’s the safest place to be, because, in the womb, we are innocent.” This does make a degree of sense, especially if you’re the victim in the horror movie. There’s a sense of safety that comes with hiding under the bed or in the closet. It’s often the quickest place to find when you’re in an absolute panic and have a psychopathic killer breathing down your neck.
Besides, let’s be honest. If Jason Voorhees (or another horror genre villain of your choice) was chasing you, all rational thinking would go completely out the window and your survival instinct would kick in.
But what about the killers? Why do they do it?
Partly for the same reasons as their victims; it’s some form of a safety blanket for them, potentially making them invincible to attacks. But there’s another reason; folklore.
There has always been stories about monsters in the closet and demons hiding under the bed. Folklore has us believing that the worst thing your nightmares can conjure up reside in the darkest parts of your room. At some point, we’ve all had a monster hiding in the depths of our closet, or a demon residing under the bed. While these fears may seem childish, I guarantee if I informed you that there was a killer under your bed, right now, your heart would skip a beat. In fact, some real life criminals have taken to hiding, undetected for a number of days, under people’s bed and within closets.
This is one cliché you can expect to see time and time again. While it does get old, reality is if you were placed in the same situation as the character, chances are you’d do the exact same thing. Screw rational thinking. It’s survival time.
Can I make one, teeny, tiny suggestion? Check the closet, and under your bed tonight. You know, just in case…