Everyone likes a happy ending. After watching two or even three hours of any movie, it’s nice for the film to conclude on a positive note. Movies like Back to the Future, Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, and The Truman Show have heartwarming conclusions that leave audiences feeling hopeful.
However, plenty of films have dark endings. While happy conclusions are easy crowd-pleasers, sad endings can linger in the minds of audiences. With movies like Shutter Island and Se7en, there’s no denying that some films’ ends are truly bleak and grim.
10 Shutter Island Concludes On A Haunting Thought
Director Martin Scorsese’s filmography is full of iconic films, many of which sit in the annals of cinema history. 2010’s Shutter Island is one of Scorsese’s best and most underrated movies.
The story follows two detectives who travel to the mysterious psychiatric hospital on Shutter Island to solve a case, and the film is full of twists. The final twist is that the main character Teddy Daniels is a patient on the island. The movie concludes with Daniels heading into a lobotomy and posing a question to his former partner. Daniels asks, “Which would be worse – to live as a monster or to die as a good man?”
9 Oldboy’s Conclusion Is Famously Dark
2003’s Oldboy is one of the most successful and critically acclaimed films to ever come out of South Korea. Revolving around Oh Dae-Su, the story sees Dae-Su imprisoned for 15 years. After he’s released, he finds out that he must find the individuals who captured him in five days.
At Oldboy’s end, Dae-Su discovers the reason behind his abduction and the man responsible. Unfortunately, he also learns that his daughter – the person he believed would be killed if he didn’t find his captors – is the same woman he met after his escape. He also realizes he was intimate with her. Dae-Su pleads to his captor not to tell her the truth, and to secure his silence, Dae-Su cuts out his tongue.
8 Soylent Green’s Iconic Twist Turns The Stomach
The dystopian futures in many science fiction films often don’t leave much room for a happy ending. Most of the time, there’s only so much that changes when the world has already turned to chaos. This is much the case in 1973’s Soylent Green.
Set in a world where overpopulation is rampant, Soylent Green sees Detective Thorn stumbling upon a massive conspiracy about the nature of Soylent Green, a new food that’s supposedly made from ocean plankton. However, Thorn discovers that Soylent Green is made from human corpses. The movie ends with Thorn being carried away while yelling, “Soylent Green is people,” to a crowd of onlookers.
7 The Witch Sees Evil Win In The End
Horror movies rarely have a happy ending. 2015’s The Witch lacks any compassion for the characters. Directed by Robert Eggers, The Witch is a flawlessly crafted period piece about a supposed witch who terrorizes a family.
Throughout the film, the witch living in the woods continues to torment this family. From stealing an infant child to making the father think his eldest daughter (Thomasin) is responsible, it’s clear the witch has zero compassion. By the film’s end, Thomasin is the only one left alive. She’s lured into the forest and gleefully joins the witches’ coven.
6 Invasion Of The Body Snatchers’ Final Moments Leave No Room For Hope
1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers is one of the most hopeless alien invasion movies ever. Based on the 1955 novel and 1956 film of the same name, Body Snatchers focuses on a group of humans as they deal with an invasion of aliens who replaced humans with perfect duplicates. These alien/human duplicates lack any emotions.
Matthew has watched everyone he knows be replaced by husks. It’s already a hopeless situation, but it gets worse. Body Snatchers concludes with Matthew meeting with Nancy in the park. When Nancy sees Mathew, he lets out a screech, showing that Nancy is no longer human. All Nancy can do is scream as she realizes she’s the last human left.
5 Hereditary’s Ending Is Distressing And Dark
Director Ari Aster’s 2018 horror hit, Hereditary, changed the horror landscape. While several movies turned the horror movie genre back into more than Paranormal Activity ripoffs, Hereditary felt a genuine upgrade from the norm.
Hereditary focuses on a family. After attending the funeral of Annie Graham’s distant mother, things begins to deteriorate quickly. Toward the end of Hereditary, all the family members, except for Peter, are dead. Peter is lured to the tree house outside the home and deemed the new host of the demon king Paimon by the coven of worshipers, which Annie Graham’s mother was a part of.
4 Requiem For A Dream Gives None Of The Characters A Happy Ending
It’s not often a movie has four main characters, all of whom have a terrible ending. However, the psychological drama Requiem for a Dream features exactly that. Released in 2000 and based on the 1978 novel of the same name, Requiem for a Dream focuses on four people, Harry, Sara, Marion, and Tyrone, who are addicted to drugs.
All the characters hit their lowest points by Requiem for a Dream‘s end. Harry has his arm amputated, and Marion is forced to work for a pimp and is assaulted. Sara’s hospital treatment leaves her in a catatonic state, and racist guards in prison beat Tyrone. The movie ends with all characters dreaming of a better life.
3 The Mist Perfectly Captures Stephen King’s Dower Work With Its Ending
Few authors are more associated with dark stories than Stephen King. His 1980 novella, The Mist, is one of his darkest stories yet, and its subsequent film adaption in 2007 is just as grim.
The Mist focuses on survivors who are trapped in a grocery store as a mist filled with bloodthirsty creatures blankets their town. By the end, David Drayton escapes with a few survivors, but their car breaks down while still in the mist. In a desperate act, Drayton shoots everyone, including his son. He doesn’t have enough bullets for himself, so he steps out in the mist. However, in a heartbreaking twist, the mist clears and the military arrives.
2 Se7en Has A Shocking Twist
David Fincher broke into the film industry with his 1997 crime hit Se7en. While Se7en is most known for having a shocking twist, the movie is incredibly well-directed and keeps audiences on the edges of their seats. Near the end, John Doe, the serial killer the detectives have been chasing, turns himself in.
Se7en ends with Doe leading detectives Mills and Somerset to a box that contains Mills’ wife’s head. Doe wants Mills to murder him, thus becoming wrath, while Doe is envy for being envious of Mills’ life. Mills kills Doe, leaving a distraught Somerset to remark, “Ernest Hemingway once wrote, ‘The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.’ I agree with the second part.”
1 Lake Mungo Recontextualizes The Whole Film To Terrifying Results
2008’s Lake Mungo is one of the most criminally underrated horror films ever made. Directed and written by Joel Anderson, Lake Mungo is stylized as a found footage mockumentary. It focuses on a family who begins to experience supernatural events after their daughter Alice drowns and dies. Although it doesn’t feature any jump scares, Lake Mungo is genuinely unnerving.
Lake Mungo’s conclusion sees Alice’s family recovering a phone she buried near the lake. They discover that Alice recorded her encounter with her doppelganger, who looks like her bloated corpse. The movie ends with flashbacks to several of the photos seen during Lake Mungo, which shows that Alice’s ghost was always in the background.
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