Horror fans love to be scared…after all, that’s why they are fans of the genre. Whether it’s a horror movie that’s good, bad, or unwatchable, audiences can’t help being vocal about how and what is happening to the characters. Most commonly, the horror genre has the “nope” moment. It’s that moment where we know characters shouldn’t go in that room, hide in that spot, investigate that sound, etc. It’s also that moment when something terrifying or unnerving appears onscreen, and it’s our cue to cover our eyes, ears or exit the movie.
Jordan Peele’s horror movies have defined the genre’s characters as they are expertly aware in Get Out, usand nope just how messed up their situations are. Iconic horror “nopes” include answering the phone during any scream movie, being forced to play any game in sawthinking Michael Meyersis dead in Halloweenany conversation with Pennywise the Clown, or falling asleep during any Nightmare on Elm Street movie.
The following article contains spoilers for the films discussed.
Catherine’s Kidnapping – ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ (1991)
There are multiple moments throughout this classic where viewers were thinking, “Nope, no thank you.” The obvious moment in The Silence of the Lambs is when Clarice (Jodie Foster) enters the basement alone, and the lights go out; however, Catherine’s (Brooke Smith) kidnapping is a moment in which most people who live alone (and have walked through a dark parking lot) saw coming.
Preying on the kindness of his target women, Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) captures Catherine’s attention as he pretends to need help loading a couch into his van, his arm broken. Catherine is mere feet away from her apartment and safety when she hesitates before going over to him. Moviegoers were shaking their heads the second Catherine paused to consider going inside or helping. We were all calling out, “Go inside. Nope, don’t do it.” as she got inside the van before Bill incapacitated her.
“Tiptoe through the Tulips” – ‘Insidious’ (2010)
This is a movie plenty of us couldn’t finish the first time through; Insidious still holds its reputation as one of the scariest movies of the 2000s. Like any good horror movie, well, any movie of any genre for that matter, calling back to an element that elicited a strong response or importance to the storyline is key. Insidious does this, causing multiple “nope” moments for the audience.
Not sure if it’s real or a hallucination of sleep deprivation, Renai (Rose Byrne) is outside taking the garbage out when she hears music playing from inside. Tiptoe through the Tulips by Tiny Tim begins playing on the record player, and as she peaks inside, a little boy is dancing to the music. When she rushes in, he’s gone. The song is unsettling when it’s not played in a horror movie, but adding it to this one makes it terrifying, especially when it’s called back toward the end when Josh (Patrick Wilson) comes face-to-face with the red-faced demon. Any time modern audiences hear this song inside or outside the movie, it’s a quick “Nope, I’m out.”
Bobby-Lynne and Pearl – ‘X’ (2022)
This whole movie is a compilation of “nopes,” but that’s what makes it so good. Ti West’s X had viewers on the tension ropes throughout the 105-minute runtime. The upcoming sequel Pearl will undoubtedly do the same this fall when it hits theaters. From the opening scene until the very end, the band of adult filmmakers never had a chance once they stepped foot on Howard (Stephen Ure) and Pearl’s (Mia Goth) farm.
It was obvious from the set-up that Max (also Mia Goth) was going to be the final girl, leaving watchers curious about how and when every other character would exit the screen. A former final girl herself, Brittany Snow, as Bobby-Lynne with a merciless demise at the hands of Pearl. From the second Bobby-Lynne ran to the pier to keep Pearl from falling in, viewers knew she was done for after seeing Pearl kill RJ (Owen Campbell) and the gator lurking earlier in the movie. No good deed goes unpunished as we all said, “No, leave her!” while Bobby-Lynne tried to protect what she thought was a frail woman who ultimately shoved her into the jaws of the lake gator.
Charlie’s Allergic Reaction — ‘Hereditary’ (2018)
director Ari Asters first feature terrified and surprised horror fans with hereditary‘s unsettling style, ultimately leading to its rave reviews. With an excellent cast led by Toni Collette, this modern horror film unnerved its audiences, often stunned into silence and unsure of which direction the film could take. The car scene in which Peter (Alex Wolff) rushes his sister Charlie (Milly Shapiro) to the hospital following an accidental allergic reaction rocked viewers to the edge of their seats and then dropped them off the tension ledge within just a few minutes.
As Charlie hangs her head out the window, trying to get air through her rapidly swelling throat, Peter swerves to avoid hitting roadkill. Before Charlie can get back inside, the car veers off the road, and a pole decapitates her. While the whole scene played out, audiences shook their heads, “Nope, something bad is about to happen.” By the time it was all over, jaws were on the floor as the viewers sat silent while the film went silent.
Hide and Clap — ‘The Conjuring’ (2013)
There are several moments during The Conjuring where this game comes into play, and each time, it received an affirmative “nope.” Hide-and-clap is a form of hide-and-seek the Perron girls play to entertain themselves in their new home. As the spirit entities that plague the family begin to prey on the matriarch, Carolyn (Lili Taylor), hide-and-clap is used as a source of torment against her.
The first game she plays with April (Kyla Deaver) foreshadowed how terrifying the game would become once the spirits got involved. Carolyn thinks she’s found April and asks for the third clap. A pair of hands obviously not matching April’s extend from the wardrobe and provide the clap. Right then and there, we all said, “Nope, I’m done.” The game would continue in a later scene late at night as Carolyn treks downstairs in the dark to seek out the clapping and eventually is trapped in the basement where a pair of hands claps before extinguishing her matchlight. We all uttered a second “nope” paired with an “I’m moving.”
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