Many filmmakers are well known for ending their films with surprising twists, especially those that change the nature of the film upon second viewing. While some of these endings can elevate the viewing experience, others can leave viewers with a feeling of crushing disappointment. These endings often come in the form of unexpected deaths or shocking reveals that give viewers a sinking feeling, sometimes of defeat.
These movies are among the best stories but can make for difficult viewing, especially once viewers know where the story is leading. Some of these have made for the most heartbreaking events on film, with some even going as far as to erase their own story in one big reveal. While some of these are excellent, there is an art to the tragic ending, especially when wrapped in a twist.
10/10 The Abandoned Revealed Its Character Trapped In The Most Tragic Way
The Abandoned – also known as The Confines – followed a struggling young woman, Stretch, as she took on a job as a security guard in an abandoned building. While there, she witnesses a number of strange occurrences on her first night, heading into the depths of the building to investigate.
The strange goings-on appear to be a haunting, and the terror intensifies the deeper Stretch explores. But when she comes across ghosts, the story takes a heartbreaking turn. In the film’s final moments, it is revealed that Stretch had been comatose the whole time and experienced the events in her mind.
9/10 Repo Men Erased Its Hero’s Journey With One Big Reveal
Starring Jude Law and Forrest Whitaker as Remy and Jake, Repo Men follows two men, agents charged with recovering artificial organs from recipients who couldn’t pay. Naturally, their job was incredibly gruesome and, at times, outright deadly as they extracted from their targets.
After a job goes wrong, Remy finds himself on the run from his employer, now a target himself for a repo job, with Jake even coming after him. The movie’s final moments show that Remy had spent much of his story dying, none of his heroism having been real.
8/10 One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest Is A Harsh Reminder Of Institutional Abuse
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is the story of a criminal, McMurphy, who pretended to be mentally ill, hoping an institution would be preferable to a prison sentence. However, when he is sent to a mental health facility, he meets the tyrannical Nurse Ratched, a figure.
As McMurphy tried to bring some light to his fellow patients, he frequently crossed Ratched, culminating in an attempt to kill her for her sadism. McMurphy’s story tragically ends with Ratched having him lobotomized, and his friend killing him to spare him his suffering.
7/10 Somewhere In Time Leaves Its Hero Trapped From True Love
Somewhere In Time put an interesting spin on the idea of time travel. It followed a man who fell in love with a woman in a painting from decades before as he sought to take himself back in time. To do so, he had to strip himself of anything from the present, falling back through time to the past.
While in the past, he found the woman from the painting, and the two fell in love. But, when he discovered a coin from the present, he was pulled back, unable to return. In his depression, the man was unable to eat, drink or live a life and soon died of a broken heart.
6/10 Leaving Las Vegas‘ Protagonist Gets What He Wants
Nicolas Cage’s Oscar-winning performance in Leaving Las Vegas was deserved, partly due to the character’s convincing story of decay and self-destruction. It follows an alcoholic screenwriter, Ben, as he leaves Hollywood for Las Vegas, where he intends to literally drink himself to death.
While there, he meets an escort, Sera, with whom he forges a connection and begins to fall in love – but makes her promise she won’t stop his alcoholism. The movie leads viewers to hope that perhaps their love will dissuade Ben from his destructive drinking, only to be heartbroken when he follows through to the end.
5/10 Se7en Let’s The Bad Guy Win To Deadly Consequences
Se7en tells the story of two detectives investigating a series of murders inspired by the Seven Deadly Sins, each murder representing a sin. The movie focuses on the private lives of the two detectives, especially the rookie, Mills, and his wife, who are new to the rough city.
When the detectives finally captured the killer, with two murders unaccounted for, he made them an offer to lead them to the final bodies. As „John Doe“ led the two detectives to his final victims, he began to taunt Mills with the eventual revelation that he had killed his pregnant wife.
4/10 The Mist Has Its Hero Realize The Horrific Mistake He’d Made
The Mist is a great monster-horror movie that sees residents of a small town trapped in a supermarket by a deadly mist that has encompassed them. As it drew nearer, the residents, led by David, realized that monsters existed within the mysterious mist, which soon began their attacks on them.
When the survivors had dwindled, a group decided to make one final break for freedom and safety, driving through the mist. But when they broke down, David chose to spare his fellow survivors, including his son, the pain of the monsters by shooting them. Only to realize they were safe after.
3/10 Eden Lake Perpetuates An Endless Cycle Of Violence
Eden Lake began with a young couple from the city on holiday in the small countryside area of Eden Lake. While there, the two had a brief confrontation with some local youths, which ended with them sending their dog to attack them. When the couple killed the dog, things escalated.
The movie became a horror chase, the couple desperately trying to escape the youths. After the man was killed, the woman accidentally killed the youngest boy, who was trying to help. When she fled, she tragically found herself trapped in the home of the boy’s parents, from which there was no escaping her fate.
2/10 Chinatown Leaves Viewers Feeling Hopelessly Defeated
After investigating an alleged affair involving a water industrialist, Hollis Mulwray, private eye Jake Gittes discovers the man was murdered. Gittes is then led to the Mulwray’s wife, who is also the daughter of his business partner, Noah Cross, a shady industrialist.
When he discovers that Cross is responsible and seeking to cover up a heinous crime, Gittes tries to bring the police to him. But Cross, in the final minutes, is shown to not only win and kill his own daughter, but is able to kidnap a girl trapped at the heart of it – all without the police lifting a finger.
1/10 Glass Killed Its Momentum In A Single Scene
After the surprise reveal at the end of 2017’s Split that Shyamalan had established a shared world, fans eagerly awaited his finale. When the trailer for Glass dropped, it teased an ultimate showdown between the hero, David Dunn, and the villains, Mr. Glass and The Beast.
Bruce Willis‘ role in Unbreakable has long been remembered as one of the best mature superhero movies, and fans wanted to see what happened next. But many were disappointed when all three main characters were unceremoniously killed within the same scene, unable to fight back.
NEXT: 10 Greatest Creature Feature Horror Movies, Ranked