The following article contains spoilers for the films discussed. The first death in a horror film is usually one of the first terrifying moments; it sets the stage for the monster to come and sets the tone for how the film will work. It acts as an anticipation of what is to come, and a strong opening grabs the audience’s attention without being so grotesque that nothing can top it.
What makes a good first kill in a movie can be as iconic as Georgie’s (Jackson Robert Scott) death a It or create a solid backstory for a character such as midsummer:While they are all quite different, the first kill sets the tone and themes for the film. The first death also contrasts with the famous “Final Girl” archetype and can serve as motivation for our heroes.
Bathroom Stall Death – “Scream 2” (1997)
If a couple goes to a dark movie theater to watch a horror movie, it seems likely that they will be attacked in the crowd, but not inside scream 2. The film begins with a couple watching a film. As the friend goes to the bathroom, he hears someone crying in another cubicle. He presses his ear to the booth to eavesdrop and is stabbed in the head. It’s an odd way to murder someone, but that helps draw attention to it in the first place.
scream 2 is just as confident as the first film, and with that it begins with a couple in the cinema pricka film that clearly parodies Screamand even introduced with “Based on The Woodsboro Murders by Gale Weathers.” During this opening, there is a lot of discussion between characters that seems to be aimed at the first film, with the couple discussing their whiteness and Girls in the Popcorn series discussing the exploitative nature of a film based on real-life murders Opening that not only plays with confidence but also heightens the absurdity sets the stage for a strong sequel.
Dani loses her whole family – “Midsommar” (2019)
The haunting first deaths of midsummer have nothing to do with the following deaths but act as a catalyst for Dani (Florence Pugh) and her boyfriend to take part in a deadly midsummer festival. The first death is a murder-suicide in which Dani’s sister kills herself and her parents. This opening scene is terrifying as it opens onto the snowy landscape and cuts into a house where a girl has fumigated her home. Dani’s friend, Christian (Jack Reynor), comforts her in her grief but also struggles to be there as he originally wanted to leave the relationship but now feels he needs to stay with Dani.
This leads her to follow him with his friends to a Midsommar festival, and in her grief she slowly embraces the cult she was brought into, even as her friends begin to disappear. The death of her family doesn’t directly tie into the film’s villains, but is the starting point for understanding why she can be indoctrinated.
The Neighbors – “You’re Next” (2011)
While it’s typical for a slasher film’s first death to be vaguely mentioned at times throughout the film or provide a simple basis for the killer, that death is imperative for the remainder of the film. The neighbor of the wealthy Davison family is a professor who recently left his wife for a college student. What is unknown to most family members throughout the film is that while the neighbor’s car is parked in the driveway, he and his girlfriend are dead. It leaves family members more isolated than before when seeking help and makes isolation more difficult.
This also parallels the film’s core relationship, Crispin (AJ Bowen) and Erin (Sharni Vinson), when Erin started as Crispin’s TA. The nature of their relationship is mentioned throughout the film to undermine Crispin and Erin. This ultimately causes them to underestimate Erin as she becomes the last survivor as the family is killed one by one. Her survival is the reverse of the first death: a college student dating a professor.
The Groom – “Ready or Not” (2019)
There’s something spooky about a kid helping their family get away with murder, but that’s exactly what happens in the opening of Ready or Not; A young Daniel hides his brother from witnessing the match before a stabbed man enlists young Daniel’s help, and Daniel cries out for his family, allowing them to find him. This guilt haunts an older Daniel (Adam Brody) than his younger brother Alex (Mark O’Brien), prepares to marry and subjects his bride-to-be to a game of hide-and-seek to the death: the same game the man was forced into.
Daniel’s guilt for the first death is reflected in all of his actions throughout the game, while Daniel drinks and uses apathy to slow the game down. Working slowly and thoughtfully, he reflects on his place in the family and life that has resulted in the death of a man. He regrets his place in the family and wants to protect Alex, including trying to find a way to push Alex away from the family.
Annie’s Death – It Follows (2014)
The film begins with a girl running out into the street in fear; The camera pans around to show that nothing is following it. Her neighbor and her father offer help, which she refuses while constantly running away in fear. She then runs into her house, grabs the car keys and drives away. Later, at a beach, she calls her parents and tells them she loves them and shows up the next day murdered.
What’s important in this scene is for everyone, including us, that the entity is invisible. The rest of It follows is through the perspective of Jay (Maika Monroe), and the entity is finally visible to the viewer. The backstory expands as Jay learns the rules of this monster, but this opening scene shows what the monster looks like from the outside. Fear turns to revulsion within 10 minutes when the first girl allows herself to be killed rather than continue to be terrorized.
Keith’s Death – “Barbarian” (2022)
The idea that Bill Skargard is the focus of a horror movie, even if a clumsy, somewhat repulsive guy makes you think he could be the villain. Especially in a movie where a man and woman are double booked on Airbnb and she is woken up by strange noises and her door being opened. Still, the marketing team here helps to put people off, as Keith (Skarsgard) gets picked up first.
Playing with “real villains” and created villains, the film depicts a woman being forced into her lifestyle against the man who did it to her. So playing with the idea of male roles in the films is not only clever, it balances out the awkward loner who could easily be made into a villain in exchange for a more charismatic villain. Keith’s Attempts, Tess (Georgina Campbell) feel safe and help her, are genuine and set him apart from other men in the film.
Michael Kills His Sister – “Halloween” (1978)
Halloween opens with a view through a window of a couple making out; the voyeur at the window slowly enters the house and follows the couple; Once the couple’s man leaves, the voyeur goes up the stairs to the girl’s room, where he kills her. He runs out of the house only to take off his mask and show he’s just a kid.
This murder is not only a chilling beginning as it shows a murderous child, but also one with what appears to be an incestuous obsession towards his sister. Michael Myers’ lineage allows him to be nothing but a pure monster; This was the last moment of his humanity before succumbing to his murderous desires.
Georgie’s Death – “It” (2017)
The iconic death scene that inspired many Halloween costumes, the opening scene in It plays on the fears of children and parents alike as the idea of a child falling for a stranger’s tricks comes into play. When his sick brother can’t play with him in the rain, Georgie ventures out into the rain to play with a toy boat. His boat floats into the sewer, and when he kneels to get it out, a clown lives there; The clown calms Georgie’s fears before devouring his arm.
This film not only has death establishing the villain and the main character’s motivation; it is unforgettable. The “stranger menace” element also contributes to the film’s themes of fear and coming-of-age, with Georgie succumbing to her parents’ shared fears of young children and setting up the theme of coming-of-age and losing your innocence, which is later explored in the movie.
The car accident – ‘Hereditary’ (2018)
Hereditary, similar to Ari Aster’s second feature film, midsummer, is a film that deals heavily with grief and family. This time, however, after the death of her grandmother, Charlie (Milly Shapiro) and her mother Annie (Tony Collette), begin to confront the supernatural. Charlie’s brother, Peter (Alexander Wolff), seems to be pushing his grief away, and while attending a party where he’s forced to bring Charlie, he suddenly has to rush her to the hospital when she has an allergy attack. While struggling to breathe in the car, she opens the window and sticks her head out, and when Peter is forced to dodge the car to avoid a dead deer, Charlie is decapitated by a telephone pole.
This death is horrific and arbitrary and takes a tremendous toll on the family. The death itself is an accident, but was prompted in part by Peter getting high at a party and leaving his sister unattended, and by Annie getting her to join in. In the dark, the entire setup also asks about personal responsibility in the event of an accident. It divides the family and forces the viewer to take a stand.
Baum’s First Death – “Happy Death Day” (2017)
In a movie where the main character keeps dying, there are many good deaths. However, Tree’s first death is simple. She is on her way to a party and is lured by a music box into a tunnel where she confronts a hitman. While it’s not the most notable death in the whole film, that simplicity stands out; She follows the patterns of other girls who die first in horror movies while naively engaging in strange situations.
Happy death anniversary takes the concept of first death vs last girl and flips it. A typical first death in last girl movies goes to the most promiscuous woman or morally wrong. Tree is initially brutal, self-centered, and rude, but as the days pass, she is repeatedly forced to reconsider her actions. Not only does she become a better person, but someone far more alert than those around her. The first death is the outline of who she is before she is forced to see her deeds over and over again.
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https://collider.com/horror-movie-first-kills-that-no-one-will-ever-forget/ 10 Horror Movie First Kills That No One Will Ever Forget