The definitive guide to surviving a horror movie

Look, we know that the odds are pretty low that you'll ever find yourself in an actual horror movie situation. There aren't all that many abandoned mental hospitals and prisons lying around, being a serial killer is really far more effort than it's worth, and ghosts... aren't real. BUT! On the off chance that you do find yourself in a haunted house/prison/cave system fighting for your life against a zombie/psychopath/demon/cursed high school student, we wanted to make sure you were well prepared.

We're not going to bother with the obvious stuff like 'don't split up' and 'leave the damn house as soon as the weird stuff starts happening', because let's be honest, if you don't know that stuff already, you're doomed. Hey, somebody has to be the first to go! What follows are tips for more advanced survivors. Follow them, and you just might be the Final Girl or Guy. 

Don't go for the chainsaw

You think you want the chainsaw. Its high damage and guaranteed to keep the bad guy at a distance provided you can heft the damn thing. Chainsaws are incredibly heavy and horribly unbalanced, so should it run out of gas (or just not start), it's a lousy melee weapon. They're also super loud, so you can just plain forget about sneaking up and catching that killer from behind. Also, it's prone to friendly fire situations; turn at the wrong angle and you'll lop off your pal's arm. Or head. Probably head. 

Dress for success

There's a 50/50 chance you'll have access to a change of clothes, depending on the horror situation you're stuck in. If you do have some spare togs, take advantage of the opportunity to put on something sensible. Are you in a winter lodge? Assume you're going to get stuck out in the snow. Bring gloves or you'll almost undoubtedly find yourself having to chop off your fingers for something. And for goodness sake, put on some proper shoes. Flip-flops, clogs, and high-heels will all get you killed. If you didn't pack something that laces up, well... you've kind of brought your fate on yourself.

Don't film yourself sleeping

Setting up a video camera to record yourself while you sleep is the equivalent of sending out an e-vite to every malicious spirit in the netherworld. Hey, look at me! I'm unconscious and vulnerable and the lighting isn't very good! C'mon over, slam some doors if you're feeling sassy! If you're recording yourself because you're concerned that you may be sleepwalking, then you're doubly screwed. You're almost assuredly going to end up recording yourself killing your best friend/spouse/dog. Sorry. 

Finish the job

So you've come face to face with the killer and managed to whack him a good one upside the head - enough to knock him down. Don't drop the damn weapon and run, keep whacking his melon until it splits open like a pinata! If you cant bring it upon yourself to kill another living creature - well, contextually speaking you are a moron, but fine - at least do something to significantly incapacitate him. Break his ankles. Smash his hands. Poke his eyes out. Admittedly, if he's supernatural he'll probably be able to see without need for actual physical eyes, but he's gonna have an awful time hefting a machete or even turning a doorknob if you've turned his fingers to jelly. 

Lock your goddamn doors!

Look, we get it - you're scared. And scared people do stupid things. But we're super sick of watching victims get back inside or find a safe place, breathe a sigh of relief and then walk away without locking/barricading the door, only to hear it open and someone/thing creep inside. They look at each other - "Who was the last one in? Did you lock the door?" No! None of you did because you're all bloody morons who don't have the sense of a 10-year-old coming home from school. And scene. 

Listen to your kids

Yes, children make up stories and tell lies and a bunch of what they say is nonsense. But if they're telling stories while strange stuff is happening around your house, maybe you should pay a bit more attention. Don't wait until the dog ends up eviscerated on the front porch - give some credence to the idea that maybe little Sally's imaginary friend isn't quite so imaginary after all. Sit 'em down and have a three-way conversation. Ask pointed questions. So, Sally's friend, do you want to kill everyone in the house so that you and Sally can be friends forever? You do? Alrighty, then! Thanks for the intel! If your little one is more of an artist than a social butterfly, look at the damn pictures, because they're basically a roadmap to your horrible, screaming death. 

Don't be rude to anyone (especially that guy with one tooth)

You want to make it to the final act? Maybe don't be an absolute ass hat to the people who are meant to be your attractive twenty-something friends. No, we're not sure why they stick around with you either, but horror films have proved that the irritating and frankly obtuse member of the group always has an especially gruesome end planned. Being polite, not kissing your best friend's other half, not bitching about the choice of holiday destination or moaning about phone reception might just mean that you at least get to see the light of day. Otherwise it's the wood chipper for you. Turns out your parents were right, eh?

Pack batteries for your flashlight

It happens to us all. The power's gone out. And you've got a great torch that's just ideal for situations like this. But no matter how many times you shake it, somehow it's just out of juice, and that means you'll have to pick up your handy night vision camera instead to go questing into the attic. It's a proven fact that the night vision slider is the death button. You're going where the strange noise came from? Expect not to return and your friends to find your camera with a bloody smear where your precious digits used to be. You can get those really big packs of Duracells for cheap off Amazon. Do it. Consider it an investment in your ability to keep breathing.

Susan Arendt

Susan was once Managing Editor US at GamesRadar, but has since gone on to become a skilled freelance journalist, editor, producer, and content manager. She is now 1/3 of @Continuepod, 1/2 of @BeastiesLl, co-founder of @TakeThisOrg, and Apex Editor, Fluid Group.