One of the trending topics on Twitter recently was “#HowToSurviveAHorrorMovie”. As you’d expect, most people’s first rule was simple: don’t be black. Black people really do seem to have a startling tendency to be killed in horror films, and usually for no good reason. But things don’t have to be that way. The following then, is a survival guide for black people in horror films, because there’s always at least one, otherwise that would be racist.
And no one wants that.
The key to surviving, ultimately, lies with you and the type of life choices that led you to the cabin in the woods, or the abandoned, obviously haunted house, or the secret cave with the danger signs in front and the locals warning you of your imminent death. What I’m trying to say is…
Diversify your friends and then stay together. Diversity is, in general, a beautiful thing, and when being chased by a killer with a mask, a butcher knife, and a shanking fixation, it can save your life. Why? Because of the Dilution Effect.
The Dilution Effect is a survival mechanism where your chances of surviving increases depending on how many fellow prey are nearby. The predator – in this case, the dude with the hook and the loose definition of personal space – will be…“all murdered out”, as Sideshow Bob would say, and hopefully you will survive, spared like the last McNugget in a Happy Meal.
That’s you. You’re the McNugget. Without the bite mark. On the left.
Now, the caveat to this is, it only works when the prey is very similar. When there’s a odd duck out – oh, say, like a generic black guy in a group full of generically white, white people – the black guy stands out much, much more, and is far more likely to be horror-movie killed. This is known as the Odd Prey Effect. That’s right! Science actually has a reason for why black people die in movies so often, and it’s not just racism. It’s just mostly racism.
Now, let’s say, despite your best efforts, you’re trapped on a camping trip with white people, and you just start to get the feeling that maybe the string of murders the creepy old gas station attendant warned you about on the way to the secluded spot in the woods might come back to stab you in the ass. Well, then, you’ll be just fine if you remembered to…
Get a smartphone. I honestly don’t care if it’s a Droid or an iPhone. That makes zero difference to me. The point is, when you’ve outrun the killer by having the good sense not to check behind you to see if the dude is still there every three seconds – because unless the killer has ADHD and decided to go kill a squirrel instead, he’s probably still trying to kill you – and you find yourself alone and lost, just how amazing would it be to have GPS?
Technology, bitch! Google it!
Or just how different would Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street be if the main characters could just google, “how to kill Jason Voorhees” or “Freddy Mercury Related to Freddy Krueger?” Hell, there’d almost certainly be an app for just about anything short of direct self-defense and even as a last resort, you could just throw the phone at the killer.
And he’d probably instantly start playing this, giving you ample time to escape.
Okay, so you have a smartphone, but…you forgot the charger! Oh no! Well, you’re probably kinda fucked. That several hundred dollar phone of yours is now a sleak, ergonomic paperweight. And years and years of never having to actually memorize new numbers leaves you up Shit’s Creek wondering why anyone would consciously name a creek that. But for the sake of optimism, let’s say you still do have a chance. You can always…
Call the Police. Now, what a minute. I know some of you are like, “Whoa! Don’t snitch!” And I couldn’t agree more.
Thank you for not snitchin’
However, as a black person in a horror film, the odds are seriously stacked against you. Things are pretty racist, but really, it’s only slightly more extreme than shit you’ve handled before. Instead of say, the dude at JC Penney’s following you around while you’re looking at skinny jeans wondering why Kid Cudi likes ’em so much, there’s now a creepy Japanese girl with absurdly long hair and a fondness for wells and general moisture following you around wondering why you don’t give her a towel or something.
“I go for one swim and everyone starts dying…”
So it’s like, find a way to call the police – even without a smartphone, there’s an average of 1.5 calls made to the police in any given horror film – but don’t tell them you’re in trouble. If you do, they’ll arrive several hours later and almost certainly be killed comically quickly. Rather, call the police and tell them that you are a radical, former Black Panther holding several cherubic, politically well-connected white hostages. Lie if you have to, and say you’re a terrorist – your life is on the line, here! Police, SWAT, and federal marshals are bound to pop up like the Deus-Ex Machina they are.
No horror villain can survive a SWAT team, and being arrested is generally better than having to continue to hang around death-prone friends. Note, also, the lack of horror films set in prison.
Being black in a horror film is like running a race. You want to be the Somalian leaving the out-of-breath athletes in the dust. Follow these three simple rules, and use some good sense, you’ll be just probably, perhaps, hopefully fine. But probably not.
SPOILERS for I Am Legend:
Ever see this? Will Smith survives in the original, sensible ending, but the studio changed it so he died at the end. If even the Fresh Prince couldn’t…well, good luck.