3. The Killer Hiding In Plain Sight

Matthew Lillard as Stu Macher and Skeet Ulrich as Billy Loomis in Scream

This one is a tricky entry, because, in the real world, murderers do typically know their victims. Horror movies sort of embrace that fact, except they also descend into hyperbole in a way that ultimately defies logic, and that’s where the trope stops making sense. That is, in horror films – those with a sense of mystery as to the identity of the killer, at least – it always seems that the killer was hiding in plain sight all along.

The Scream movies turned this reveal into something of an art form, hiding how silly it is with solid writing. Even so, it’s a trope that makes very little sense, because it relies upon the idea that all killers are incredible liars. The idea that the main character’s boyfriend or best friend or even parent could go on an unhinged killing frenzy without a single person truly suspecting them asserts that criminal masterminds walk freely among us, waiting for their opportunity to commit the most horrific acts imaginable.

Really, it’s just a pretty stupid trope. If someone close to you was capable of multiple brutal murders, you’d generally be aware of their violent nature or particularly troubled past. Mental illness and psychopathy can certainly be concealed, but rarely to the extent that certain horror movies believe, and that’s what makes the trope such nonsense.