Horror where the protagonists use. an intelligent approach

Spoilers for Evil Dead, Trick R Treat, And Aliens

In Evil Dead, they realise the house is haunted and run into the woods. That just makes things worse. They get in the car and try to flee back to civilization. The only bridge has twisted up into a claw like thing leaving them no way back. Also in Evil Dead 3 Army Of Darkness, there’s a fantastic scene where it seems a monster is dead. Somebody is about to casually walk over and poke it. Ash, hero of the first two films, stops him saying “It’s a trick. Get an axe.”

In Trick R Treat, there’s a scene where a monster seems dead. The old man with a gun wants to be sure. So she does a safety shot to its chest and then blows off its weapon hand.

In Aliens, Ripley famously advises “Take off and nuke the site from orbit.” rather than staying and fighting.

Fun movie. Streams on both Hulu and Prime Video right now.

The late Anton Yelchin does a great job in it, too.

Second Odd Thomas. : ) It may not count as regular horror, but Anton Yelchin was great in Green Room as well.

also: the first couple of Final Destination films.

I don’t know if Room (no, NOT “The Room”!) counts as horror for most people, but I found the imprisonment/escape part of it pretty terrifying and I was impressed by the protagonist’s plan to get herself and her son away … that is, it was a horribly risky plan and it’s not one I’d choose (I’d be dusting the touchpad for the door lock with flour and experimenting at 2 in the morning) but it’s fully thought out and she handles the deception/social engineering involved with great skill.

The trouble with AQP was the world must have been pretty stupid not to realize the vulnerability of the creatures pretty quick, just by happenstance. Same could be said of World War Z.

As for my own suggestion… I struggle. Partly because I am not sure how rationally real people should be expected to react in a horror movie setting. But then I realize the premise of te thread isn’t “Horror where the protagonists act like normal people reacting to the situation they are presented with.”

So… as far as engaging with the premise of the actual thread posed… I think the family in Us had their moments of rationality, starting with calling the police (and then we eventually found out why the police never showed up even in real time, let alone compressed movie time). And of course Midsommar had at least a couple characters who knew when it was time to GTFOOT, but then they didn’t have the means owning to the isolation.

I will say that was a film I had to watch twice, with a couple years between viewings, to appreciate. But, yeah, it’s on the fringe of horror at best. Like, naturalistic man versus man horror. Patrick Stewart was great as the Big Bad.

Most of the 50s SF/horror films show intelligent protagonists trying to figure out what to do. Them! is a great example; it’s all based on what is known about ant behavior. The Monolith Monsters also is an exercise in intelligent problem solving and it shows up in It Came From Outer Space.

That’s funny!

Ironically, we watched (well, got about half way thru) He’s Out There last night. They made reasonably sound choices but generally didn’t pan out that well. It was true horror - too much for my wife so we bailed but it did fit the OP.

Of course the case could be made that if people were smart in those movies, it wouldn’t be a very long movie.

In The Return of the Living Dead when the protagonists first encounter a zombie they remember from Night of the Living Dead they have to destroy it’s brain so they easily trap it and do exactly that, but it turns out the movie lied! Even their next movie, dismembering & cremating the zombie, was a logical idea (& it would’ve worked if it didn’t rain). It was all downhill from there.

I’ll second Oculus.

The only dumb part was the protagonist were free and clear of this evil mirror for more than a decade. But then decided they needed revenge so they sought the mirror out again.

That part was dumb.

Excellent and so true!

I am going to propose Aliens. Send in the marines to kick the monster’s ass. Turns out there were way more than they thought, should have sent a whole company instead of one platoon. The new Lt. was in over his head, but the only really dumb thing that happened was when the guy took a leak outside the drop ship, left the door open and the alien got in and and they lost their way off that rock.

This was gonna be my example. Aliens is one of my favourite movies of all time. So much of the good guys plans are intelligent (or at least reasonable) and thought out, but are thwarted by circumstances or betrayal:

  • Nobody has a reason to believe Ripley is telling the truth. As Van Leuwen notes, the salvage team found no trace of the creature she described, and the families of colonists on LV-426 never encountered anything like that either - despite living there long enough to make the atmosphere breathable without special equipment.

  • The Colonial Marines are well-equipped, heavily armed, and armoured. The xenomorphs really are no match for their firepower … but circumstantially, because the alien hive is adjacent to the colony’s primary heat-exchanger, they can’t use their pulse rifles or grenades, thus negating this advantage.

  • Ultimately, Vasquez and Drake’s secretly reloading their smart guns (“10mm explosive-tip caseless - standing light armour-piercing rounds”) sets up a chain-reaction that limits the amount of time everyone has to escape off-planet, but it also prevents them from getting overwhelmed and slaughtered to a man while in the hive. There’s no way they could have known what the impact of disobeying Gorman’s order would be; nobody told them why they couldn’t use their weapons.

  • As DocCathode mentioned, after the debacle that was first contact, the plan everybody (except Burke, of course) agrees to is to leave. Had Ferro and Spunkmeyer made it over to the landing pad with the first dropship in one piece, this movie would have been a lot shorter.

  • After that disaster, everyone (again, except that slime Burke) is committed to getting back to the Sulaco on the second dropship. Barricading the entrances, welding plate steel over ducts - and setting up automated sentry guns in some cuts of the film - seems like it might work. While the colonists didn’t have much luck with similar tactics, there was also no indication that the bugs simply circumvented their barricades like they did in the operations and medical installation.

  • Sabotage! Even when it was clear that there was no way Burke was going to get what he wanted, he still tried to undermine the others. Had he been willing to accept that he was found out and was going to get punished for it - and decided to cooperate instead of hinder - he, Vasquez, Hudson, and Gorman might have survived.

  • Finally, even though it’s evident that the queen is learning to fight the humans the way the humans are learning to fight the aliens, Ripley, Hicks, and Newt could have made a clean getaway had Bishop not been forced to circle around when the landing platform started to become unstable. Unlike Ash in Alien, he is not actively trying to subvert the marines’ mission.

While it might seem reasonable that Bishop, at the controls of the second dropship, could have eliminated the queen using the ship’s cannon. However, the second ship does not appear to be carrying any ordnance, so the cannon probably isn’t even loaded. It’s also possible that Bishop is forbidden by his programming to engage in combat of any kind - even for self-preservation. When Vasquez hands him a loaded pistol before sealing him into the conduit underneath the operations center, he looks at it and hands it back.

Your reply was much better than mine, I should have waited! I also missed Doc Cathode’s post prior to posting mine.

Your screen name is nicely inconspicuous.

Sorrow’s Knot, a YA novel by Erin Bow

I used to be a hoopy frood who knew where my towel was… but those days are behind me.

It’s not really horror… depending on your perspective and who you think the protagonists are, but Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time throws a few wrenches into typical responses.