Horror movies are one of the most unusual genres in cinema, being much more centered on shocking and surprising the audience than other genres. While tropes like the final girl encourage an audience to become invested in the survival of a character, more often than not the characters will be set up for death.


Related:Unintentionally Hilarious Horror MoviesSometimes a horror film will try to shock the audience by getting rid of the character that seemed set to be the protagonist of the film long before the end and focusing on other characters for the remainder of the runtime. An uncommon trope, this has been seen on several occasions, including one particularly famous instance.

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7/7 Psycho

This trope became popular through Alfred Hitchcock’s secretive masterpiece, Psycho. The film saw a young woman, Marion Crane, steal money from her boss and take off, trying to escape with the cash but finding herself at the Bates Motel for an evening. When she does, one of the most infamous scenes in cinema takes place as she is murdered in the shower.

The film shifts and the protagonists become her sister Lila and her lover Sam Loomis come to the motel looking for her. They uncover the mystery around her disappearance and try to bring Norman Bates and his “mother” to justice.

6/7 Godzilla (2014)

Godzilla’s latest American reboot franchise began with an ominous marketing campaign featuring Bryan Cranston’s character Joe Brody. This scientist doomsayer seemed set to be the protagonist of the film, but once the film got going in earnest after the flashback where Joe lost his wife, things shifted drastically.

Suddenly the focus was more on Joe’s son Ford Brody, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson. He went to Japan to bail his father out of prison and then went with him on an adventure that abruptly shifted when Joe was killed in a Kaiju attack. This surprising development led to Ford going solo for the rest of the film, as the focus moved between him, Godzilla, and his wife Elle. The scientific doomsayer role was filled in by Ken Watanabe for the remainder of the runtime.

5/7 I Came By

The New Netflix film I Came By was recently released starring a surprisingly dark (and surprisingly “Rick and Morty” loving) Hugh Bonneville as a murderous judge who catches the attention of criminal graffiti artist Toby, played by George Mackay. While Mackay was the surprising lead of 1917, he was just as shockingly killed off halfway through I Came By in a Psycho-style twist.

The rest of the film, similarly to Psycho, dealt with his mother and best friend trying to uncover the mystery of his disappearance. They attempt to stop the rampage of Bonneville’s character, eventually leading to a showdown that comes too late to save most of the characters.

4/7 Annabelle: Creation

After the critically reviled Annabelle, Mike Flanagan was brought in to make a prequel set in an orphanage. The prequel was much better received, although there was a surprising shift during the film. While Annabelle: Creation began by focusing on Talitha Bateman’s polio-afflicted orphan Janice, she was later possessed by the demon which inhabits the Annabelle doll.

Related:Scariest Anime Movies To Watch This HalloweenAt this point in the film, her best friend Linda took over the leading role as she tried to help Janice and fix the situation. She even attempts throwing the doll away, but it is all to little avail as the curse afflicting the orphanage only gets worse all the way to the finale.

3/7 Scream

Scream infamously tried to use a Psycho-reminiscent marketing strategy leading up to the release of the film. Director Wes Craven wanted audiences to enter the cinema completely convinced that Drew Barrymore’s character Casey Becker was going to be the leader of the slasher whodunit.

Instead, Casey appeared in the opening scene of the film and was murdered in the climax of that scene, along with her boyfriend. Those events launched the film and the franchise in style, and the tricky relationship this caused with the audience through such a major surprise has been well-tended in a similar fashion over the twenty-five years since the release of the original Scream.

2/7 Alien

It is difficult to say that the protagonist changed over the course of Alien. This was more a case of there being no clear protagonist in the early stages, and Sigourney Weaver’s character Ellen Ripley emerging as the film went on as the true lead. The initial shots of the Nostromo showed the crew as an ensemble, never focusing too heavily on Ripley despite her eventual final girl position.

It is strange to look back on Alien and think that perhaps the Captain of the ship or John Hurt would go on to be the protagonist of the film. Since that, Ellen Ripley has gone on to become one of the most famous action film leading ladies in the history of cinema, but it began with her innocently hiding among group shots in the first act of Alien.

1/7 28 Weeks Later

When 28 Weeks Later begins with Robert Carlyle’s character Don and his wife Alice running from the infected, viewers assumed that Don would be the protagonist of the film. However, the focus shifted to his children when they arrived on-screen, and Don ended up kissing Alice when she was found alive early in the second act.

Unfortunately for him, Alice was latently carrying the virus and Don turned into a zombie and brutally beat his wife to death. He then begins hunting his children as one of the leaders of the infected and is the closest thing the film has to a leading antagonist from that point on.

More:Best Zombie Horror Movies

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