[Horror Cliche] Serial Rapist

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Last House on the Left

Out of all tropes, serial rapist is probably one of the more controversial. I wouldn’t be surprised if more people are willing to tolerate gratuitous violence and torture porn over a few lines or minutes of a rape scene. One of the few horror movies to really get under my skin is the Last House on the Left (remake) because of the extended and sort of long rape scene. It’s brutal, horrific, and does not celebrate or glorify the subject in any way other than to exploit for sensationalist value. As mentioned before, exploiting our emotions, or fears, is how horror works. After all, if a horror short or film doesn’t exploit your fear and emotions, then you’re not really being scared or disturbed.

Last House on the Left

The serial rapist is a trope that is common in horror, but it’s not one that has flooded that market. Examples of the serial rapist trope are

  • The antagonist of the Slasher Movie Eyes of a Stranger is a serial rapist who also kills his victims, whose activities are investigated by the main character. Unfortunately, he turns out to be her neighbor, and he starts targeting her blind sister.
  • The gang in Savage Streets is a roaming group of low-life rapists.
  • The “claim” gang from the Walking Dead.
  • Junior Roark of Sin City

It should go without saying, hopefully, that the serial rapist is an antagonist. Not just any antogonist, but one that the author or creator wants the audience to hate. I mean absolutely hate. I have yet to stumble upon a story, comic, or film where a serial rapist is a protagonist and is glorified versus demonized. If any exist, I would honestly like to know.

Did anyone feel sympathy for this rape monster? Doubtful

It should also go without saying why the serial rapist trope is SO effective. Hardly anything demonizes a character faster than rape, especially if the character is targeting people of a vulnerable group. People can feel compassion for a murderer, a serial killer, and torture conductor, but not a serial rapist. It’s possible, if an author dared to show multiple sides of the character, but I’d imagine it would be very difficult to garner sympathy for a rapist. The crime is so horrific that it becomes almost too easy as a demonizor for you antagonist.

Never happened, except with Bill Clinton.

As other clichés, the trick is in the execution, but word of caution. Using this trope may lead you labeled as a sexist or misogynist. Authors aren’t usually thought of as supporters of misandy for killing fictional male characters. Authors aren’t usually thought of as supporters of misanthropy for when they kill off a slew of characters in graphic ways. Including a serial rapist in your story does not mean you condone rape.

Savage Streets

This leads to a slight digression about the existence of “rape culture”. I have not heard one person that honestly cheers on a rape scene. I have never heard one person comment on a rape scene with “I wish it was longer” or “she didn’t scream enough”. I have not heard one person say that what Sin City needed was more rape. However, there is a genre that seems very keen on using rape but for a different reason. Horror uses it to demonize, whereas I would erotica uses it for arousal.


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