We’ve all wished we had a time machine at some point in our lives, right? Maybe even more than once. We shout “Turn around!”, “Don’t go in there!” and, “Run!”, at the screen as we watch characters make bad moves, not truly realizing poor decisions are staple behaviors that keep the horror genre running. While almost every scary movie is built on one bad decision made somewhere, the following have made pretty significant impacts on the genre over the last few decades. What would our beloved films be like if the central characters could go back in time and right their wrongs?
While the plots would be different, unfortunately for us, the characters would find themselves in far better circumstances. These are 10 Horror Characters That Really Needed A Time Machine. Obviously, MAJOR spoilers ahead. You can’t go back in a time machine to unread these.
10. Sally, Franklin, Kirk, Pam, and Jerry in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre taught us that nothing good ever comes from picking up a hitchhiker. Sally, her brother Franklin, and their friends Kirk, Jerry, and Pam act as good samaritans by picking one up on their way to investigate vandalism at their abandoned family home and the genre was never the same. Call it fate or an inevitable coincidence, the group winds up in desperate need of gas and a time machine as they find themselves stranded in the middle of a nightmare clad in skin and bones. Until technology catches up, no good deed goes unpunished.
Alternate universe via time machine: The gang makes it to the Hardesty house unscathed, but read from a strange book bound in flesh that they found in the basement…
9. Evelyn and Lee Abbott in A Quiet Place (2018)
While Evelyn and Lee’s loss at the beginning of A Quiet Place is horrible, conceiving a naturally noisy baby in the middle of a sound-sensitive monster invasion is just plain irresponsible. They seemed to have nailed living a silent existence down, with a few hiccups here and there, but the induction of labor makes things way more difficult to handle and… loudly fatal. Not to mention, the waterfall nearby may have been a better residence option to take up around Evelyn’s due date. Looking back, I’m sure they both would use a time machine to undo a few things.
Alternate universe via time machine: The Abbott Family lives in mute harmony sans newborn until a sequel is (immediately) greenlit.
8. Jay Height in It Follows (2014)
Love and sex are two choices an individual is free to act on, but it may be in their best interest to approach both with caution. Jay Height in It Follows learns the hard way when a casual encounter leaves her constantly trailed by a faceless, unknown threat that can only be escaped by passing it on to another. Anyone who has had a moment of clarity following a less than desirable interaction knows the feeling of regret that only a time machine could fix. Unfortunately for Jay, her “morning after” carries more unique consequences other than disappointment.
Alternate universe via time machine: Jay moves on to live a dreamy, average life having typical relations with other guys before she realizes she is in love with her best friend sometime after college.
7. Ash, Linda, Scott, Cheryl, and Shelly in The Evil Dead (1981)
A quick read from the Egyptian Book of the Dead and pressing play on a suspect tape recorder seals a gory, wacky fate for Ash and his friends when they vacation to a secluded cabin in the woods in The Evil Dead. As the gruesome events unfold, they sure could have used a time machine (even though that’s not necessarily in the cards until Army of Darkness) to keep themselves from awakening the demonic spirits that would turn their good time into sheer carnage. How do you say ‘redo’ in ancient Sumerian?
Alternate universe via time machine: The teens spend a fun-filled weekend in the cabin only to meet a slasher who annually stalks the grounds on an unfortunate, random anniversary.
6. Peter Graham in Hereditary (2018)
We can debate who’s at fault when it comes to Charlie’s death in Hereditary, but responsibility sadly lies in the hands of her older brother, Peter. He leaves Charlie unattended at a party where she consumes cake riddled with nuts turning, thus turning their teen-night-out into an anaphylactic fit of horrendous proportions. Under layers of shock, the undeniable wish for a time machine is visible in Peter’s emotions from the second his young sister’s face meets a pole. I kind of want a time machine myself so I can experience that moment for the first time all over again. Yikes.
Alternate universe via time machine: The Graham Family goes on to live a common, dysfunctional life until a cult forces their agenda upon them another way.
5. Julie, Helen, Ray, and Barry in I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Sometimes going to the police is the best decision. It would have been for Julie, Ray, Helen, and Barry in I Know What You Did Last Summer. After hitting a stranger in the middle of the road, they opt to dump the body which results in deadly future summers to come. If they had a time machine, I’m sure they would all agree to notify the authorities. Manslaughter charges hurt less than actual slaughter, kids.
Alternate universe via time machine: The teens go off to college and never see each other again, aside from the occasional Facebook update that they “Like”, except for Barry who never “Likes” anything.
4. Rachel Keller in The Ring (2002)
When it comes to committing horror’s biggest “Oops!”, Rachel in The Ring is a top contender. After learning about a haunted tape that kills viewers in seven days, not only does she watch it herself but she also leaves it in plain reach of her young son who, obviously, also watches it. All parents make mistakes, no one’s perfect, but those typical incidents rarely result in a cycle of impending death. If Rachel thought she needed a time machine after receiving her phone call, we can only imagine how bad she wanted one after it rang for her son.
Alternate universe via time machine: Rachel destroys the tape leaving Samara trapped in her VHS world forever and continues to be an absent-minded mother.
3. Marion Crane in Psycho (1960)
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho places the lead, Marion Crane, in a sticky situation. On the run to her lover, Sam, with money she stole from work, Marion finds herself stopped to rest at a little motel en route. Paranoia and guilt get the best of her and she actually decides to return the money after a good night’s sleep, but that plan is made just a little too late. Given the choice between a shower at the Bates Motel and putting off an engagement until her beau can reach financial stability, it’s safe to assume Marion would hop in a time machine and book it back to Phoenix without question.
Alternate universe via time machine: Marion deposits the money promptly in the bank and tells Sam to pay off his own debt if he wants to marry her. She’s an independent woman and doesn’t need to support any man in the name of romance. Not in this economy.
2. Louis Creed in Pet Sematary (1989)
Guilt and regret share a small coffin in the adaptation of Stephen King’s horrific novel, Pet Sematary. Louis Creed is a good father, but in one careless moment where he takes his eyes off of his toddler son, Gage, complete tragedy and subsequent chaos buries his domestic bliss like a hit from a semi-truck. If time machine access was granted to any of these characters, Louis certainly gets dibs on the first trip. The scene remains one of the genre’s most traumatic and intense moments that still has viewers hoping the little guy makes it across the street in one piece, no matter how many times it’s revisited.
Alternate universe via time machine: Louis controls his footing, rescues Gage, bans kite-flying forever, and makes numerous angry calls to the county about the dangerous highway road running through his neighborhood.
1. The Kim Family in Parasite (2019)
Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite will go down in well-deserved history for its Best Picture Academy Award win, which makes the poor decision-making more forgivable than others. When The Kim Family allows the former housekeeper back into The Park Family’s house late one evening (while they are shamelessly indulging in their home nonetheless), all hell breaks loose. It goes to show that even the smartest people can make one really bad call. If they had a time machine they should have done what I do: screen all house visitors thoroughly AKA don’t answer the door to anyone.
Alternate universe via time machine: The Kim Family identities remain a secret until they all rack up enough money to support themselves because they definitely would have gotten away with it for a long time.
Honorable Mention: David Drayton in The Mist (2007)
David Drayton’s ultimately tragic decision to put the few town survivors out of their misery, including his young son, would not have changed the plot of The Mist, but it would have made for a more lighthearted ending. If he would have waited just a minute or two, they all could have been saved. Cue the time machine! It was a debatable, but devastating decision that gave the adaptation one heck of a notable ending.
Which of these characters needed a time machine the most? Who are your favorite horror characters that made bad decisions? Let us know your thoughts over on Twitter, Reddit, or in the Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook!