Rules in Horror Films


Rules are made to be broken. Well that’s what they say in rock n’ roll. Horror films are a little bit different though. In The Other Side of the Door a grieving mother can’t help but break the rules and opens the door between the world of the living and the dead to see her deceased son one last time. She’s not the first (and she won’t be the last) to break the rules in a horror film and unlock a series of dire consequences. Here’s a list of some of the most iconic rules in horror film, and the fools who break them. WARNING: SPOILERS AHOY!


  1. Gremlins

As much a comedy as a horror, Gremlins makes it onto the list because the entire movie is based on very simple rules that you think would be easy not to break. The adorable little Mogwai’s come with only three rules; don’t get them wet, keep them out of sunlight, and never feed them after midnight. But what do you know, their owners only go and break all three rules. Soon enough this spawns more Mogwai’s who quickly turn evil and plunge the suburban American town of Kingston Falls into chaos.


  1. Zombieland

The rules of Zombieland are a bit longer but by no means less important. These include importance of cardio and limbering up, not to stingy with your bullets and to always check the back seat; Columbus’ insistence on sticking to these rules is probably why he’s one of the few protagonists in a zombie film to make it out alive. The lucky guy even manages to get away with breaking one of the rules: Don’t be a hero.


  1. The Visit

We all know grandparents are sticklers for rules, but in The Visit they really mean it. Becca and Tyler are given only two rules when they go to stay with their Grandparents; don’t go into the basement and don’t leave your room after 9.30. Yet they end up doing both. To be fair, it turned out that these weren’t their grandparents but vicious serial killers who had killed their grandparents and taken their place. If the kids hadn’t broken the rules though, maybe their fake grandparents would have left them alone? I guess we’ll never know.


  1. Nightmare on Elm Street

A Halloween horror classic, Nightmare on Elm Street provides a slightly more difficult rule to follow: Don’t fall asleep. Once you fall asleep Freddy Kruger will enter your dreams and you’re done for. Really it’s no wonder the kids keep breaking this rule, we all have to sleep eventually. If they had cottoned on to what was going on a bit earlier though, they might have at least avoided sleeping a bit longer to figure out a way to stop him. Instead Freddy puts them all into an eternal slumber.


  1. Cabin in the Woods

There are bigger rules and there are smaller rules going on in the meta-horror Cabin in the Woods. When a group of college students find themselves under attack from supernatural beings in a deserted cabin, the stoner of the group Marty tries to establish rules to stop them from meeting their doom, most notable “Do not read the Latin!” Yet unbeknownst to them, they are part of a wider set of rules, where humans must be sacrificed to supernatural beings to appease them and prevent their wrath. Their failure to obey the first set of rules leaves three of the five dead, but as the final two teens survive until the end of the film, we are left wondering, have they doomed us all?

  1. The Innkeepers

When a psychic medium tells you ‘don’t go into the basement’ of a notoriously haunted hotel, it’s usually best that you listen to her. In The Innkeepers two ghost enthusiasts are keen to uncover the truth behind a haunted hotel before it closes down for good. Surprise surprise by ignoring the rules the lead protagonist Claire pays the ultimate price. I’d say a better rule to have followed in this situation is, don’t work at notoriously haunted hotels, but maybe that’s just me.

  1. An American Werewolf in London

The rules are given and broken in quick succession in An American Werewolf in London. Two American Backpackers are travelling across the Yorkshire moors and are told by a group of Yorkshire pub-goers to “stay on the road. Keep clear of the moors” and “beware the moon”. However, after leaving the pub they stray off the road and onto the moors during a full moon. One is shortly killed and the other turned into a Werewolf and from their chaos ensues. Here there wouldn’t be much of a movie if they hadn’t broken the rules, but you’d think they would have listened to such clear instructions. Maybe they just couldn’t understand that thick Yorkshire accent…


  1. The Candyman

When you are told the rules to summon an evil spirit, those are probably the rules you should be breaking, or at least just ignoring. Helen Lyle, who is studying urban legends, discovers the legend of the Candyman, whose spirit haunts the town who unjustly killed him. She is foolish enough to not believe in the legend, summoning the evil spirit, and causing chaos, eventually becoming the spirit herself. I guess it was too tempting not to try, and you have to applaud her for being one of the only horror protagonists who obeyed the rules, even if it led to her demise.


  1. Saw

Saw is a franchise that is dependent on doing what you’re told and following instructions which, let’s face it, are rules by any other name. Rather than killing people outright, John Kramer, the Jigsaw killer, traps his victims and forces them to complete his ‘games’ or ‘tests’, making them endure great physical and psychological torture to save their lives; those that don’t obey die. So as hard as it is, in these films it really pays to obey the rules.


  1. Scream

The Scream franchise is famous for its tongue in cheek rules. In each film a series of rules is set out plotting out who is most likely to die, and at almost every turn no-one listens to them. Varying from the more useful “you may not survive the movie if you drink or do drugs” to the more meta, “anyone, including the main character, can die”, perhaps the best rule comes from the final film, Scream 4. “Unexpected is the new cliché”, so basically there aren’t any rules anymore! Talk about turning the whole thing on its head.

So how will breaking the rules pan out in The Other Side of the Door turn out? See for yourself when this film hits UK cinemas from 4t March. For more information and to book tickets head to

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About Bat 4344 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Mafia III.

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