Most Unlikable Protagonists in Horror Movies Who We Don't Mind Dying The Talks Today

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Most Unlikable Protagonists in Horror Movies Who We Don’t Mind Dying
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Most Unlikable Protagonists in Horror Movies Who We Don’t Mind Dying

It’s something of a long tradition for horror movie characters to be unlikeable; how else can a rowdy teenage audience cheer for their demise? While the characters sacrificed to the slasher’s blade are often secondary to the film’s protagonist, sometimes, they’ve got to go, too.

Characters like Wendy Torrance from The Shining and Samuel Vanek from The Babadook often get thrown onto these types of lists for being “annoying” in a vague sense of the word, but that hardly qualifies as an argument for their anticipated death. Instead, these unlikeable protagonists are often mean and/or selfish, and their actions are a driving force behind whatever evil lurks in the shadows. They are just as bad, sometimes even worse, than the monster.


10 AJ Gilbride – Barbarian (2022)

Regency Enterprises

AJ Gilbride is a surprise addition in Zach Cregger’s hit Barbarian, only appearing about 30 minutes into the movie in a complete shift from the earlier narrative. AJ, played by Justin Long, is an actor who’s losing it all. After assault allegations arise from one of AJ’s female costars, his projects and contracts get canceled left and right. The actor never stops acting, always trying to play the role of the “good guy” who’s been wronged, despite the fact that he admits to the assault.

Related: Exclusive: Justin Long Discusses Barbarian Amid Horror Movie’s Streaming Release

As the movie progresses and AJ dives into the literal dungeon beneath his property, he has several opportunities to prove that he is the kind of person he so desperately wants people to believe he is. But at every turn, AJ resorts to violent cowardice. By the time he commits his final act, it’s nothing short of a relief when Mother gives him what he deserves.

9 Tori Tooms – Christmas Bloody Christmas (2022)

Christmas Bloody Christmas
RLJE Films

Christmas and horror have gone together since before movies existed, and they’ve become quite the pair in cinematic outings. Joe Begos’ 2022 venture into holiday horror. Christmas Bloody Christmas, carries the torch of the classic Silent Night, Deadly Night series while infusing it with a healthy dose of The Terminator.

Which is good, considering the main characters are some of the most annoying to date. Protagonist Tori Tooms is a record store owner who hates Christmas, and she absolutely won’t shut up about it. She and her employee-turned-lover Robbie carry the majority of the film’s opening act through over-the-top edge lord dialogue bashing Christmas.

Joe Begos admits that Tori is a version of himself, so she can’t help but come across as a horror-flavored pick me. It shouldn’t be hard for horror audiences to empathize with Tori, and yet she feels like she actively goes out of her way to be contrarian. When Tori is inevitably the final girl standing, it’s hard to root for her over the ax-wielding robot Santa Claus.

8 Shawn – Deadstream (2022)

Joseph Winter as Shawn in Deadstream, a camera strapped to his head and a spinner in his hand

We’ve all had to put up with our fair share of toxic internet personalities over the last several years, so it’s hardly difficult to hate Shawn Ruddy, the protagonist of the horror-comedy Deadstream. The movie sees Shawn trying to recover his online popularity — and brand sponsors — after he’s been ostensibly canceled. To do this, he will face his fears and spend a night in the haunted Death Manor while live-streaming the whole thing.

From the phony apologies and over-the-top stunts to the devotion to the whims of sponsors, Shawn does everything we’ve come to hate from massive online celebs like PewDiePie and Logan Paul. There is a sense by the end of Deadstream that Shawn has learned at least some version of his lesson, but that’s far from enough to make us feel bad when he meets his maker.

7 Annie Hardy – Dashcam (2021)

Annie films herself in the real movie Dashcam
Momentum Pictures

Annie Hardy, the protagonist in Rob Savage’s 2021 film Dashcam, is the kind of unlikeable protagonist that is so deplorable that a majority of the film’s negative reviews are due to her character. Hardy makes this movie hard for some to watch, but for others, she makes it incredibly difficult to look away.

Related: Was Rob Savage’s Movie Dashcam Ignored Because of its Problematic Lead?

A distillation of all the worst type of people to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic, Hardy is self-absorbed to the extreme. Early parts of the film have her mocking people for wearing masks and stealing from the friend whose home where she’s ungraciously crashed.

It’s Annie’s lack of comeuppance at Dashcam’s end that left a sour taste in many reviewers’ mouths, but it seems her survival mirrors the same awful people she’s associated with. Despite getting a firsthand look at the consequences of her actions, Annie makes it through without a lesson learned.

6 Edward Malus – The Wicker Man (2006)

Nicolas Cage screams
Warner Bros.

It’s no stretch to put Nicolas Cage’s character Edward Malus from The Wicker Man on this list: his stupidity knows no bounds. Despite the deluge of red flags Malus encounters even before he’s made it to the remote Summersisle, the detective persists in achieving his goals in the dumbest ways possible.

What makes Malus’ utter inanity really shine, though, is Cage’s over the top performance. Most viewers will likely be familiar with the memes that emerged from Cage’s role in The Wicker Man, but watching the movie as a whole really solidifies Malus’ utter unpleasantness.

5 Micah – Paranormal Activity (2007)

Final scenes of Paranormal Activity
Paramount Pictures

Micah from Paranormal Activity is probably one of the most egregious examples of an awful found footage protagonist. The film begins with couple Katie and Micah in their new San Diego home. Katie has revealed to Micah that a demon has been haunting her from a young age, so Micah insists upon capturing footage around the house to see what happens when they aren’t watching.

He insists, even though his partner who is far more experienced with the demon tells him they shouldn’t invite it out. He insists still when a demonologist tells him the same thing. But it’s a wonder Katie sticks around even after Micah takes things a step further and brings a Ouija board into the house against her wishes. He constantly baits out the paranormal antagonist and causes a series worth of suffering as a result. It’s hard to say we have any sympathy left for Micah, if we ever had any at all, by the time he’s hurled at the camera.

4 Blaire Lily and Friends – Unfriended (2014)

A phone notification rings on an internet screen in Unfriended
Universal Pictures

Everyone in Unfriended is unlikeable: this group of friends are selfish liars, bullies, and manipulators. One night over a Skype call, these friends are killed by the ghost of Laura, a classmate they bullied into suicide a year prior. Blaire Lily, the character whose screen is shared with the audience and was best friends with Laura, is presumably the protagonist, but her sins are far from the worst these teens have to offer.

Perhaps because we get more of her perspective, Blaire does give off an extra layer of disingenuousness. Throughout this film about the toxicity of digital platforms, Blaire tries to convince everyone that she hadn’t been involved in Laura’s harassment. At the end, though, it’s revealed that Blaire not only was involved in the cyberbullying, but she was also the one who filmed and uploaded the clip that inspired it in the first place. Blaire constantly lies about the kind of person she is, and her actions amount to an absolute betrayal of trust. By the time Laura gets her revenge, it’s hard not to be on the ghost’s side.

3 Louis Creed – Pet Sematary (1989)

Dale Midkiff and Miko Hughes in Pet Sematary.
Paramount Pictures

It’s incredibly frustrating when a horror protagonist fails to learn their lesson, and Louis Creed from Pet Sematary is a classic example. In the movie, Creed and his family live near an ancient burial ground that resurrects the dead. But these dead don’t return exactly as themselves; rather they are cruel, violent, and malicious.

The first victim Louis buries in the magical cemetery is his daughter’s cat, Church, and it’s obvious almost immediately that something isn’t right. That doesn’t stop Louis, though, from burying his dead son Gage in the cemetery not long after. When Gage comes back as a literal demon child, it’s hard to feel bad for Louis.

Bringing back Gage is not Louis’s sole stupidity; he returns to the pet cemetery a third time to resurrect his wife Rachel after Gage kills her. Louis’s third trip to revive the dead comes across as nothing short of comical as the viewer asks, “Why is he doing this again?” When Rachel inevitably returns to finish off Louis, it feels more deserved than most movie deaths.

2 Lance Preston – Grave Encounters (2011)

Grave Encounters
Tribeca Film

Ghost hunting shows are rife with unlikeable characters, so it’s only fitting that the protagonists of Grave Encounters would feel deserving of their fate. Grave Encounters is a found-footage film depicting the “lost” final episode of a fictional television show of the same name. The ghost hunting team is lead to their doom by Zak Bagans knockoff Lance Preston through an abandoned psychiatric hospital.

If you know anything about the Ghost Adventures host Preston is satirizing, it’s easy to imagine the exact type of annoying that he is. He’s dishonest about ghosts and his belief in them, cynically faking hauntings for the sake of entertainment. Not only that, the host is also antagonistic to the spirits, at one point threatening them with a call to the police. Lance is representative of everything people find obnoxious and hilarious about ghost hunting shows, and watching the ghosts finish off him and his crew of phony “ghost hunters” is delightful because of it.

1 Laurie Strode – Halloween (2018 Trilogy)

Laurie Strode in Halloween Ends
Universal Pictures

Hear us out. Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode in the original Halloween was an inspiration to a generation of scream queens, but her modern take on the character is far more frustrating and unlikeable than her teen self. Not only is this Laurie obnoxiously self-centered, but that narcissism leads to the suffering of everyone in Haddonfield.

The first film in this most recent trilogy starts Laurie off on a sour note. Severely traumatized by the events of the original Halloween, 2018 Laurie has lived her entire life in fear of the boogeyman. While what Laure experienced was horrific, her reaction to this single incident is arguably overblown. In assuming that she has any significance to Michael, Laurie actively puts everyone around her in harm’s way for 40 years, getting countless members of her community killed.

This isn’t to mention the disrespect Laurie has for her own family in these films. Laurie doesn’t respect her daughter Karen’s desire for her mother to move past Michael, instead insisting that she is in the right. But what’s more insulting is how Laurie acts after Karen dies: it’s only at this point in her life that she is willing to move on.

Laurie’s development in the most recent Halloween films feels backwards, and the character suffers for it. It’s easy to root for Laurie in the original Halloween, but the modern interpretation is just mean, unlikeable, and selfish. It’s unfortunate that Halloween Ends is Curtis’ last outing in the role, as it’s hardly the ending that horror’s favorite final girl deserved.