There are sets of rules and situations that seem to appear in movies and games to induce fear and scare the audience/player. That may have started as original ideas, over time became cliches.
Dark room with flickering lights.
The abandoned building or an asylum.
A little girl that shows up at the end of the hallway and then disappears.
A phone that rings, when answered no one is on the other side, or you hear heavy breathing.
Foggy environment with noises and sounds of creatures awaiting for you just around the corner.
Characters that stay around in abandoned small towns.