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Is Chad From ‘Scream 6’ Reviving the Horror Himbo?

Oh Chad, you beautiful dummy.

Mason Gooding (“Chad Meeks-Martin”) stars in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group's "Scream VI."

If there’s one thing the Scream films know how to do, it’s comment on the state of modern horror. The franchise has developed a reputation as a sort of horror barometer—shaping its characters, visuals, and even killer reveals around trends that formed in between Scream installments. But while the series may have a reputation for being reactionary, the latest two Screams seem to be taking a stab at revitalizing a trend of their own: the horror himbo.

It’s no secret that when it comes to horror, “final girl” is the name of the game—the overwhelming majority of the genre’s protagonists tend to be female, a trend that Scream, of course, reflects with leading ladies Sidney, Gale, Sam, and Tara. But while it’s always great to see strong, smart women kicking ass onscreen, a girl can’t help but miss the bygone era of horror hunks—an era that the Scream films seem to be attempting to revive (or at least emulate) with Mason Gooding’s Chad Meeks-Martin.

When he was first introduced in Scream (that is, the fifth Scream film, not the original) Chad Meeks-Martin was pretty much just there to pad the film’s prospective body count, filling the requisite “dumb jock” ensemble role and serving as another possible suspect for the eventual Ghostface reveal. “But Lauren!” I hear you say. “We’ve had tons of dumb jocks in recent horror”—and you’d be right. Crucially, though, “dumb and athletic” aren’t the only two qualities in a himbo, and Chad is one of the few leading men in horror to have the crucial third element: kindness.

The key difference between a horror himbo and a plain old horror jock is their attitude towards others—straight-up jocks in horror (like Chris Hemsworth in Cabin in the Woods) tend to be skeevy, horny assholes who we’re not all too bummed to see eventually bite it at the hands of a brutal killer. This is in contrast to horror himbos, whose kindness, compassion, and yes, lack of booksmarts, are endearing qualities that have us rooting for them to survive.

Though Evil Dead‘s Ash isn’t *stupid*, per se, his goofy antics, good heart, and hulking build make him a great example of a classic horror himbo, alongside Re-Animator‘s bleeding heart hunk Dan Cain, and Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge‘s definitely-not-queer leading man Jesse. While these types of characters may be few and far between, they often serve as a welcome change of pace from the typical ‘dumb jock’ convention and tend to be one of the few trustworthy male characters in films that do feature a female protagonist.

But especially with the recent development of “prestige horror”, these types of kindly jocks are far and few between, which makes a character like Chad Meeks-Martin all the more memorable. When we first meet Chad, he does, admittedly come off as a possible asshole-jock type, but it quickly becomes clear that he’s more than just his beefy exterior. There’s a genuine compassion for others (especially his sister Mindy) that makes him easy to love, even if he does call his rippling biceps “Hobbs” and “Shaw”.

He has a few other similarly goofy moments in Scream, but it’s Scream 6 where his status as a himbo becomes truly undeniable, moseying around a frat party dressed like a sexy cowboy and calling everyone “partner” even while trying to break up a fistfight, is himbo behavior if ever I’ve seen it. The film seems to be aware of the trope it’s leaning into as well; at one point, somebody points out that he’s a walking jock stereotype literally named “Chad”, but it’s hard to stay mad at him for it when he’s knocking heads and looking out for the women in his life.

Though Chad may have the least screen time of Scream‘s newly-dubbed “core four”, that hasn’t stopped him from being a surprise scene stealer, and a welcome revitalization of a trope far too underutilized across horror. And thanks to the fact that (spoiler alert!) he’s alive and kicking when the Scream VI credits roll, we can look forward to plenty of more himbo one-liners from our favorite Woodsboro jock when he returns for the final installment of the trilogy.

(featured image: Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group)

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Lauren Coates is a Chicago-based film & television critic and freelance journalist who works as a contributing writer for The Mary Sue. You can find her on Twitter @laurenjcoates and read more of her work on Culturess.