Follow TV Tropes


Playing With / Nothing Is Scarier

Go To

Basic Trope: Fear is not induced by some traumatic visual element or obvious threat, but by the lack thereof.

  • Straight: The scariest scene in a movie is a walk down a dark hallway where nothing happens.
  • Exaggerated:
    • The entire two hour movie is just a walk down a hallway where nothing happens.
    • Nobody in the movie is ever shown as a victim of anything... People just disappear. No body, no blood, no screams, nothing.
  • Advertisement:
  • Downplayed: Nothing happens, but it's a very short sequence and the hallway is warmly lit.
  • Justified:
  • Inverted: The sequence focuses exclusively on the monster, to the exclusion of the cast.
  • Subverted: The protagonists walk down a hallway, but there is a monster at the end of it...
  • Double Subverted: ...but it's actually a photograph of a possibly-all-too-real monster taken in this very corridor...
  • Parodied:
    • There are two monsters in the film. One is a regular monster, out to eat the protagonists. The other monster is named Nothing. It's scarier than the other monster.
    • Advertisement:
    • The protagonists are terrified while walking down an empty corridor, but when they get to the end and a monster finally does jump out they all breathe a sigh of relief and laugh as it starts to munch on them.
    • Alice and Bob are walking down a dark, creepy corridor in an abandoned hotel. Alice is scared because she thinks that something will suddenly jump out and kill them. Bob is scared because a long walk down a plain hallway might bore him to death.
  • Zig Zagged: What appears to be a monster jumps at the camera, only to be an extreme close up of an insect. Then the REAL monster jumps ou- no, it's just an optical illusion. THEN the real monster- No, another extreme close up...
  • Averted: The monster is clearly presented from the start and shown throughout the sequence.
  • Enforced: "Our model designer sucks. Let's just shoot an empty hallway and let the audience's imagination do the work."
  • Advertisement:
  • Lampshaded: "I wish the monster would just attack us already."
  • Invoked: The monster feeding on fear makes Bob walk through an empty hallway, knowing it will produce enough emotions to sustain it.
  • Exploited: The monsters spend so much time doing nothing and creating tension that Bob's already jogged to the end of the hallway and the monster missed it's chance.
  • Defied:
    • Bob looks down an empty hallway and decides to keep going in another direction.
    • Bob dumps an entire magazine of bullets into the dark area just in case there's a monster lurking there.
    • The designer team (or the cast's resident Jerkass) hollers out that "you know what would be really scary? ANYTHING!!!" and either orders for a monster to be placed in the sequence or does something really stupid to try to make one appear.
  • Discussed: "If we go down this hallway, the monster's just gonna jump out at us after keeping us in suspense."
  • Conversed: "And there's this absolutely creepy scene by the end when Bob has to walk to the exit and he has no idea where the monster is, or if it's even still alive..."
  • Deconstructed: The audience realizes that the monster will eventually show up, and so they wait for it without being afraid.
  • Reconstructed:
    • ...But it's taking an awfully long time, and the audience's bravado begins to waver...
    • The audience is prepared to wait quite a while for the monster to appear. That's why it pops up just a few seconds after the protagonists enter the corridor.
    • Bob dumps an entire magazine of bullets into the dark area just in case there's a monster lurking there. But then he walks down the hallway and is never seen again with whatever happened to him never being explained.
  • Plotted A Good Waste: Even the victims never see what's killing them. Nobody knows what's hunting them, what it looks like, or how it kills. They're understandably terrified. And then it turns out that what's been killing them is either something that's been visible through the whole movie, but never seemed to be a threat, or is something that there's a reason not to see, like a disease.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: