We’ve all done it, when watching horror films we shout, scream and pull out our hairs, figuratively at least. When we put ourselves in the same situations we see the victims in, we scoff and claim we could do better. But could we? Despite the negative connotation associated with the style of running in some horror films, it has naturally progressed in such a way that makes it necessary. Imagine, it’s nearing the end of a movie, theres only two helpless teens navigating pitch dark woods and our favourite killer is about to get a small glint of pleasure from his favourite form of murder, a stabbathon. He’s creeping up behind Cindy, but unbeknownst to him, Cindy has that great ass because she’s a track (not to be confused with trap) star. Cindy can walk 500 miles and then walk 5000 more. Next thing we know we see Cindy gleefully running off into the sunlight while Jason’s murder chubby deflates. It seems unlikely because realistically no one wants to see that. Horror running has evolved into the staggering, limping, zig-zag it is because of a myriad of reasons but more importantly; story progression, circumstances and sometimes boobs.
Calculated scenarios are not something most horror fans would necessarily like to think about during the movie. We essentially want to be entertained in a fantasy world. This is why horror is such a beautiful thing. Do I want to see heads explode in real life? Not really my thing. But when artfully recreated it on screen the audience is fixated because in a real life setting its taboo for obvious reasons, murder (duh). This plays on the theory that we don’t want to see ‘just anyone’ essentially escape. It’s a strange catch 22, ultimately we’re rooting for the ‘good guy’ or the victim. We also don’t want any form of sudden success. This is where the suffering comes into play. As an audience we want the victim to deserve to live. The initial movie deaths are quick and nonchalant because they were either a minor character or they were stupid enough to die. When we get to a ‘final girl’ type of character by this point in time they’ve been through the ringer. They have run around the house, a killer has always been on their tail. Despite the amount of corners and milage they have seem to gained, it can all be spoiled by a long shot of the killer in the foresight.
A more logical twist on why running away has progressed in such a way is harm. It always seems to involve the foot as well.In House of Wax, Paris Hiltons achilles heel is penetrated, and Jared’s tendon is sliced. There is always going to be that girl who jumps out of her two story house the wrong way and sprain or snap her ankle. It’s the oldest trick in the book. This is important because even if in cases like Cindy’s her previous skills would become a moot point and bring the playing field back down. It also seems that these victims are always running away in the most unfortunate circumstances. Are they running away in a well lit suburban area? Not unless its from zombies, but that’s another instance altogether. They are usually situated in the most rural of areas in pitch dark with no general understanding of their surroundings. This as people we could understand. It takes a very brave person to run full tilt into a forrest, despite imminent doom. They need to walk that gingerly line for their own safety despite it not being the quickest escape from Johnny Hatchet.
Despite several different styles of escaping when it comes to running, the style has inevitably become a cliche. Carmen Electra famously gets soaked while running away and her fake boobs get stabbed out. It’s a hilarious scene and it’s also defiantly not wrong. How many times have we seen wet tank tops running for dear life, sometimes slowly. The wife beaters, they’re everywhere! Jessica Biel in Texas Chainsaw Massacre for instance. I mean clearly I’m not mad at it, I don’t think any one is, and realistically if you’re being stalked by a rampant killer do you really care your bra strap is showing? Hell most people don’t care in painfully normal situations. With horror movies comes sexiness, its the ying to the gruesome yang. it balances out the gore with the tit. Sometimes with running away the pacing can be off and it provides some time frame for the remainder of the movie. The escaping can’t last too long but it can’t be too short in order for it to seem like a simple task. This is where the line is drawn, so why not add a nip here and there to literally peak the interest of the audience.
When thinking about running and horror it can almost be compared to the slow Baywatch beach runs, but with more slicing and dicing. Next time you find yourself walking home, alone at night look at your surroundings. Could you get away as easy as you think? What are your obstacles? Lets hope you’re not on top of a grate, and make sure there are no looming figures in the dark alley beside you because realistically you don’t know shit until it happens to you.
Until next time my little horrs.
*Havent written an essay since University, so be thankful it’s not about Leon Trotsky*