10 Horror Movie Characters Who Didn't Know They Were The Victim

These characters had to learn that they were already dead.

Hellraiser Hellseeker

Perhaps more so than any other genre, horror is able to get away with being familiar and formulaic, because the thrill of watching a group of hapless young people fecklessly flee a mask-wearing, blade-wielding maniac is just inherently fun, y'know?

But that doesn't mean the genre is stagnant or lacking in original takes, as there are many filmmakers who like to switch-up the expected cliches and tropes.

We recently explored horror movies where the killer isn't even aware that they're the killer, and now we're turning to consider those who didn't know they were a victim.

Generally speaking horror movie victims have a pretty damn good inkling that they're being terrorised when the killer buries a machete in their head, yet more supernaturally inclined horrors have managed to give us characters who weren't quite aware their number was up.

It's a narrative sleight of hand that's becoming increasingly tricky to pull off these days, but these horror movies all categorically nailed it one way or another, serving up characters who had to come to terms with the fact that they were worm food already.

Don't feel bad if you didn't figure it out until the very end, because most of these characters didn't either...

10. Jacob Singer - Jacob's Ladder

Hellraiser Hellseeker
TriStar Pictures

Let's kick the list off with a sure-fire cult classic - 1990's unforgettable psychological horror Jacob's Ladder. Tim Robbins stars as Jacob Singer, a soldier in the Vietnam war who in the film's opening scene is stabbed by a bayonet-wielding foe.

Jacob wakes up in a New York City subway several years later, and the rest of the movie plays out with him experiencing increasingly disturbing visions of the world around him.

At film's end, however, it's revealed that Jacob is still very much in Vietnam and living out his final moments following that opening bayonet attack.

Worse still, the attacker was one of his own men, who was driven insane by a drug called The Ladder that was being secretly tested out by the Army on Jacob's unit.

Almost the entirety of the movie has been Jacob's dying vision, including a comforting final image of his dead son (Macaulay Culkin) leading him towards a bright light, before we cut abruptly back to Vietnam where Jacob is declared dead.

It's the sort of twist ending that filmmakers can't really get away with anymore, but it certainly landed with a bruising impact 30+ years ago.

Plus, having Jacob be a victim of his own country's surreptitious chemical warfare experiments makes him a most unique kind of war casualty.


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.