Teen-Slasher Horror Clichés from “Psychopath” to “Indian Curse” (Case Study: Until Dawn)

by Eugen Pfister

A year has passed since the sisters Hannah and Beth Washington disappeared. In February 2014, they had planned to spend a few days with their brother Josh and six other friends in a luxurious lodge in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. But things didn’t turn out at all as expected: Humiliated by a childish and hurtful prank, Hannah runs out into a blizzard at night. Her sister Beth runs after her. Both are never seen again. A year later, Josh invites the remaining friends back to the supposedly isolated lodge for the weekend: Mike, the stereotypical “jock” character; Jessica, his attractive and somewhat one-dimensional girlfriend; the affable Matt; the cynical and callous Emily; Chris the token nerd and Ashley, the wallflower. Josh’s invitation, which he sends by video message, seems to the others to be a good idea; for players on the other side of the screen, however, alarm bells are already ringing. They have read all of the popular cultural clues correctly, and already know what is coming next.  

Game name: Until Dawn
Developer: Supermassive Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Creators: Will Byles, Nik Bowne
Year of release: 2015
Platform: PS4
Setting: Teen slasher horror
Genre (ludic): Action / Adventure
Gameplay: Interactive drama; decision trees, QTEs

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