Spoilers for various horror movies
Mentions of murder, sexual abuse, and suicide.
- Many horror movies have great twists or cliffhanger endings, but in some cases, the ending completely ruins the movie.
- Iconic horror movies like Rosemary’s Baby and The Blair Witch Project have proven that a twist isn’t necessary for a great ending.
- Examples like The Village and High Tension show that bad endings can ruin the whole movie, leaving audiences unsatisfied.
Many horror movies have twist endings, save big reveals for the final minutes, or end on cliffhangers to set up a sequel, but in many cases, the ending completely ruins the whole movie. Although horror movies tend to follow certain tropes, there’s no formula to making a horror movie, which has led to some questionable decisions in various of them. Surely, some horror movies from the same subgenre tend to follow the same model, which can make them highly predictable, but the endings of some work better than others either thanks to the rest of the story, the characters, or the scare factor of the movie.
The horror genre has seen many iconic and unforgettable endings, such as those of Rosemary’s Baby, The Blair Witch Project, Saw, and Hereditary, and while many have relied on twists, many have proven that they aren’t necessary for the ending to be great. On the other hand, the horror genre is also known for having a bunch of terrible endings, which in many cases have been bad enough to ruin the whole movie, while others are kind of fitting with the quality of the rest of the movie (though some could have definitely benefited from a better ending). Here are 10 examples of horror movies that were ruined by bad endings and why they are terrible.
10 The Village
M. Night Shyamalan has become infamous in the horror genre for his terrible endings, and among his worst is The Village. Set in a village whose residents live in fear of mysterious creatures living in the woods beyond it, The Village follows Ivy Elizabeth Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard), a blind girl, as she sets out into the woods to find help after one from the community is badly injured. The Village has two twists, the first one being that the creatures are actually members of the community wearing costumes, and the second one, that comes towards the end, is that it’s set in the 21st century, not the 19th century as the villagers chose. The Village is one of Shyamalan’s worst endings because it made no sense and wasn’t surprising at all, and it only raised more questions that the movie was never going to answer.
Unfriended is a screenlife horror movie directed by Levan Gabriadze, and it’s the first feature film to be entirely set on a computer screen. On the one-year anniversary of the suicide of teenager Laura Barns, her childhood best friend Blaire Lily (Shelley Hennig), her boyfriend Mitch, and their friends Jess, Ken, and Adam are in a Skype conversation that is joined by an unknown user named “billie227”. The group is unable to kick out the intruder, who turns out to be the deceased Laura, who starts playing mind games with the group, leading to their suicides, one by one.
After building all that tension and showing how the group is pushed to their deaths, Unfriended ends with Blaire hearing her bedroom door creak and Laura’s spirit slamming Blaire’s laptop shut before attacking Blaire/the camera. Even though there’s a supernatural element in Unfriended, the ending didn’t feel fitting and was underwhelming compared to the tension the rest of the movie built.
8 Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
The Halloween franchise has gone through different timelines that haven’t always been beneficial, and one of its worst is the one known as the “Cult of Thorn timeline”. This branch takes its name from Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, as its ending is so infamously bad that it ruined a whole timeline. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers revealed that the reason for Michael Myers’ evil was the Cult of Thorn, a cult of druids who placed a curse on a child of their tribe, who was then possessed by Thorn and driven to kill their family. At the end of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Tommy (Paul Rudd), Kara, and the kids escape Smith’s Grove after Tommy leaves Michael unconscious, but Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) stays behind. Michael’s mask is shown on the floor, with Loomis screaming in the background, leaving his and Michael’s fate unknown.
To make it worse, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers has another ending, found in the producer’s cut, and it’s no better. In it, Michael is stopped by Tommy with runes of light, and he, Kara, and the kids escape, but Loomis returns. He finds Michael lying on the floor, but when he takes his mask off, he finds out that Michael switched clothes with Dr. Wynn and escaped. To make it worse, Wynn passed on the role of Michael’s guardian to Loomis, who screams when he sees the symbol of Thorn on his wrist. Both endings left the Cult of Thorn storyline inconclusive, and the cult was nothing more than a lazy excuse to explain Michael’s rumored immortality.
7 I Know What You Did Last Summer
I Know What You Did Last Summer is nothing like the novel it’s based on, so its ending is completely different and not as exciting as the crew behind it probably thought. After the big reveal of the fisherman being Ben Willis, Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and Ray (Freddie Prinze Jr) seemingly kill him when throwing him off his boat and cutting his hand. A year later, Julie is seen back in school, getting ready to take a shower while talking on the phone with Ray. When Julie enters the showers, she sees the words “I Still Know” written in the steam on the shower door, and Ben Willis jumps out of it to attack Julie. Even though I Know What You Did Last Summer got a sequel, this “cliffhanger” ending was unnecessary as it couldn’t be explained, so much so that the sequel reworked it as a dream.
6 Truth or Dare
Truth or Dare is a supernatural horror movie directed by Jeff Wadlow. It follows a group of college students who meet a stranger at a bar who invites them to a party at an abandoned church where they play “truth or dare” but with a twist: they have to do what the game asks (which it does through possessing people around them) or they will be killed. At the end of Truth or Dare, the last ones standing – Olivia (Lucy Hale) and Markie (Violett Beane) – pass on the game by uploading a video in which they ask “truth or dare” to the viewers, thus involving them into the game and delaying their next turn. The demon responsible for the deadly game had told Olivia there was no way out, so instead of finding an actual, possible solution, Olivia and Markie decided to endanger the world.
5 Scream 3
Scream is one of the most popular sagas in the horror genre, but even this one has its not-so-memorable moments. Scream 3 is often regarded as the weakest movie in the franchise due to its villain reveal and how it retconned everything the saga had established until then. Scream 3 is the only movie in the series with just one killer, and that was Roman Bridger (Scott Foley), who revealed he was Sidney’s half-brother, but their mother, Maureen, rejected him as he was the result of sexual abuse.
Unable to take the rejection, Roman stalked Maureen and showed Billy Loomis footage of his father with Maureen, which then motivated Billy and Stu’s murders from the first movie. Roman, then, is the reason why the Ghostface murders began, but his link to Sidney and his involvement in past murders made little sense and were an unnecessary addition to the Scream universe.
4 Pet Sematary (2019)
Stephen King’s novel Pet Sematary was adapted into a movie in 1989, and in 2019, it got the remake treatment, but it wasn’t a successful one. Directed by Kevin Kölsh and Dennis Widmyer, Pet Sematary made some controversial changes to the novel and movie that were key to its critical failure. In this version, Ellie is the one who dies and is resurrected after Louis buries her in the “pet sematary”, but the movie completely forgets about its own rules and time and sees pretty much every main character die, with the whole family dying and resurrecting. In the final scene, they all approach the car where Gage had been waiting for them, implying they are about to kill the boy and bury him as well. It’s a messy ending that instead of being scary, is tiring and hard to believe.
3 Seed of Chucky
Seed of Chucky is the fifth installment of the Child’s Play movie series. Directed by Don Mancini, Seed of Chucky is set six years after Bride of Chucky and follows Glen, a young doll and son of Chucky and Tiffany, who resurrects his parents. What follows is a messy story in which Tiffany and Chucky try to transfer their souls into two humans – Jennifer Tilly and Redman, respectively – and Glen’s soul into Jennnifer’s baby. At the end of Seed of Chucky, and after Glen dismembered Chucky, it’s revealed that Tiffany succeeded in transferring her soul into Jennifer’s body and Glen’s two personalities (Glen and Glenda) into Jennifer’s twin children. On the twins’ birthday, Glen opens a present to see Chucky’s severed arm, which springs to grab him. It’s campy but in the worst way.
Another infamously bad ending in an M. Night Shyamalan movie is Signs. Starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix, Signs follows a former Episcopal priest, Graham Hess (Gibson), who discovers a series of crop circles in his cornfield. These turn out to be the result of extraterrestrial life, but all the tension Signs builds throughout most of the movie crashes down right at the end. Graham remembers his wife’s last words, “swing away”, and realizes it’s a message to use a baseball bat to kill the alien, while Merrill (Phoenix) discovers that the aliens’ weakness is water. Signs’ ending has become infamous for its underwhelming “twist” and completely absurd realizations that give the characters an easy way out.
1 High Tension
High Tension is a French slasher movie directed by Alexandre Aja and starring Cécile de France as Marie and Maïwenn as Alexia. High Tension follows these two friends who arrive at Alex’s parents’ secluded farmhouse to study, but they are soon invaded by a serial killer. High Tension then sees Marie doing her best to save Alex as her family is murdered by this mysterious figure, and while the story sure does justice to its title, it’s all ruined by its twist ending: the killer is Marie, who is delusional and in love with Alex. The explanation given for Marie’s murderous actions falls short and there are no hints prior to the reveal for Marie to be the killer, so while the twist itself isn’t bad, it was poorly executed and didn’t really fit the rest of the movie.