Home Movies

10 Smartest Horror Movie Characters

No yelling at the screen for these flicks!

Image via Paramount

Horror movies are well-known for featuring characters who make rash and poorly-thought out decisions. Sometimes, you even find characters who make downright stupid decisions, especially in slasher films. They can infuriate audiences, especially when the dumb characters are the final survivors or the main protagonist.

Recommended Videos

That’s why we wanted to highlight some characters in horror who don’t fit this trope of stupidity in horror flicks. These people may or may not die over the film’s runtime, but we can guarantee that they did all they could to survive by their wits. Personally, I find smart horror characters the most rewarding!

The Band in The Green Room

A man points a gun off-screen while four others look at him.
Image via A24

In The Green Room, the punk band (Ain’t Rights) didn’t ask to be trapped at a neo-Nazi concert venue. All four members have their own strengths, with the only arguably weak link being Tiger. Amber, the girl who is trapped with the band in the titular green room, also shows a lot of wit for a horror movie character. Despite their resourcefulness, you can never discount the bad luck that befalls some characters. This is part of what makes The Green Room so terrifying — intelligence is not always enough to get you out of a bad situation.

Ripley in Alien

Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in 'Alien'
Image via 20th Century Studios

It can be argued that the only reason anything bad happens at all in Alien is that no one listens to Ellen Ripley. Aboard the Nostromo, Ripley wants to refuse Kane reentering the ship after he’s been attacked, as it violates quarantine procedures. She’s overridden on this decision, and chaos breaks loose on board. Her wit, logic, and rationale continue to benefit her greatly throughout the runtime of Alien, while the same can’t be said for the others onboard the Nostromo.

Joel Martin in Scream 2

Close-up of Joel Martin
Image via Dimeson Films

The Scream universe is known for getting pretty meta at times, so it’s no surprise that one of their characters would show up on this list. In Scream 2, Joel Martin is a cameraman for Gale Weathers, the famed reported who helps take down Ghostface in multiple Scream movies. Unlike Gale, Joel does not show the same interest in uncovering the mysteries of a psychotic killer. He quickly exits early on in Scream 2, not sticking around the risk death or dismemberment.

Maddie in Hush

Image via Netflix

Maddie is a horror author living on her own, when a strange man begins to terrorize her in Hush. Despite the hurdle of being deaf and mute, she smartly improvises ways over and over to foil the man’s sinister plans for her. Hush from Mike Flanagan features some of the most unique survival tactics I’ve ever seen in a home invasion horror movie before, making it a delight to watch.

Captain Miller in Event Horizon

Image via Paramount

Event Horizon is a movie that borders on campy delight and terrifying horror. That’s why it’s so surprising to find a character as grounded as Captain Miller. Most of the characters of Event Horizon are not stupid by any means, but Miller is a testament to how characters should act in horror scenarios. He doesn’t let curiosity get the better of him. In fact, he’s ready to head home the second things go wrong.

Grace in Ready or Not

Samara Weaving as Grace
Image via Searchlight Pictures

Initially, Samara Weaving’s character Grace in Ready or Not may not stand out as anything special. She’s just a bride who has been pulled into a cruel game of hide-and-seek and the news sends her into shock. After the effects of shock wear off, though, she changes into sneakers and gets down to business. Grace is grounded and realistic enough to make mistakes, but her actions and justified and utilize every advantage she can find along the way. She’ll do what it takes to survive, even if it means punching a kid in the face.

Danny Torrance in The Shining

Image via Warner Bros.

While Danny Torrance in the book version is a little more outspoken and of slightly-above average intelligence, the move version of The Shining shows an even wittier side of Danny. He is more subdued and observant than the average child, but this makes him pop on-screen. Unlike a lot of kids in horror, Danny doesn’t slow down or detract from the plot of The Shining. One can even say he adds to it, especially in the final scene of the film.

Rod in Get Out

Image via Universal

When Chris Washington goes to visit his girlfriend Rose’s family in Get Out, his buddy Rod Williams immediately tells him it’s a bad idea. He’s especially worried that Rose has not communicated the nature of their interracial relationship to her white parents. As the plot continues, Rod continues to be an astute and cautious character. Even at the very end, he shines through as the smartest person to exist in Get Out. Not only is he smart, he also has a heart that lets him occasionally override his self-preservation skills to help out others.

Margot in The Menu

Anya Taylor-Joy as Margot, The Menu (2022)
Image via Searchlight Pictures

Similar to Grace in Ready or Not, who we covered above, Margot in The Menu is an outlier to the rich people surrounding her. She’s also been pulled into a deadly game of sorts. Unlike Grace, though, Margot has a keen sense that something is off from the get-go. Her shrewdness keeps her alert all throughout The Menu. Even better, her career (which parallels the chef’s in a few ways) gives her the perfect insight into possibly getting out alive.

Marty in The Cabin in the Woods

Marty looks off in the distance.
Image via Lionsgate

Marty Mikalski (Fran Kranz)is one of the most notable characters in The Cabin in the Woods, mainly for his comedic wit. Even while intoxicated from heavy marijuana use, he notices things are off much quicker than his friends do. Most importantly, he straddles the line between curious and self-preserving, which is what you need in The Cabin in the Woods universe. Though things may spin beyond his control as the plot continues, it’s not due to his lack of intelligence.