2. Don’t be afraid to show the killer, ghost, or creature.
Halloween and The Strangers proved that long, straight-on shots of the pursuer can be very effective.
“Pop-ups” can be fun but ultimately pander to a cheap crowd. If you want your movie to hold up over time, don’t be The Messengers/every other movie.
3. Don’t put Asians, black people, jerks, sluts, virgins or stoners in your movie just to kill them off or to have a “token” character. A horror fan needs to be able to relate to and have sympathy for everyone, not just one person. When you do that, you make it too clear who is going to live and who is going to die.
4. Don’t fumble your ending.
A good twist can make a movie ten times better, while a bad one can leave such a sour taste that the viewer could disregard the whole thing. Bad ending: The Last Exorcism. Good ending: Dead Silence.
5. Dialogue is key.
Make the audience laugh and connect on a deeper level early on. The Hills Have Eyes remake and Tarantino’s Death Proof are good examples. Teach them who these characters truly are and what they care about so that when they’re in danger the movie-goer is vested and worried about the outcome.
5. Make sure the blood looks real.
Not too bright, dark, or thick. There’s nothing wrong with gore, but if it doesn’t look real nobody is going to feel like it could be.
6. Dream sequences are boring.
If you insist on having one, only do it once. Nobody wants to be tricked into thinking the protagonist has died multiple times.
*Titles that utilize at least half of these tips: House Of The Devil, The Descent, Saw, Nightmare On Elm Street, Wolf Creek, May, The Ring, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Skeleton Key, Audition, Suspiria.
*Ones that don’t: Shutter, Insidious, Cabin In The Woods, The Happening, Fright Night (remake), Shark Night, Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, The Unborn, Boogeyman, Red Eye, One Missed Call.