There are a lot of elements that need to come together in just the right way in order for a horror flick to really pull itself off. But even if the scares are a bit stale, the pacing is off, or the tension isn't entirely consistent, a good twist or an immensely cathartic ending can make up for quite a bit. Conversely, a bad ending can completely ruin the entirety of the film leading up to it, regardless of quality. Today's list is focusing squarely on the latter.
Whether it was a low budget bomb that was in desperate need of a solid twist or an overly hyped blockbuster that squandered a good plot, all ten of the horror films featured below have one thing in common: unforgettably and unforgivably terrible conclusions. Spoilers do follow, obviously, so this is a good opportunity to turn back if any of these films are on your watch list.
10 Paranormal Activity (2007)
As a whole, Paranormal Activity serves as a decent example of managing to do quite a bit with very little. Its limited setting, mockumentary style camerawork and very straightforward paranormal horror narrative come together decently enough. The ending, however, is incredibly underwhelming.
It is very much the sum of its parts. After a creepy sleepwalking gag and a fit of off-screen screaming, the real bizarre and laughable bit arrives when the demonic entity possessing Katie crawls menacingly towards the camera before leaping towards it, with the film cutting to black. What's the logic, there? Is it meant to break the fourth wall? Are demons just extremely camera shy? The world may never know.
9 Jigsaw (2017)
The Saw franchise simply cannot figure out how to quit, having spun a ridiculously convoluted web of impractical plot twists and retroactive continuity issues in its increasingly desperate bids to justify sequel after sequel after sequel. The shark was jumped long ago, but as the latest entry in the series shows, they're still trying.
Following the old "I'm not actually dead" gag (which the series has already used), Logan reveals himself as the game's architect to the final survivor, and unfurls the entirety of the scheme in a ridiculous manner usually relegated to Bond villains. Afterwards, he slices Halloran's head up like a birthday cake using lasers, which is almost more visually comical than it is shocking.
8 Jennifer's Body (2009)
Though Jennifer's Body saw lukewarm reception at best, it did explore a few interesting avenues. Megan Fox being cast in a lead horror role was actually pretty fresh, and its dark comedy elements manage to shine occasionally. The ending was conceptually sound, bringing a necessarily gruesome end to the jerks in antagonistic band Low Shoulder, but it's far too much of a stretch, comedic elements or not.
After Needy manages to kill the demonically possessed Jennifer, she's committed to an asylum, wherein she finds that Jennifer had spread her demonic powers to her by way of a bite sustained during the scuffle. Because of reasons. She uses those powers to great effect, but the method by which she came by them seems pretty lazy.
7 The Village (2004)
Director M. Night Shyamalan had pretty well established his penchant for intriguing, plot-warping twists by the time The Village hit theaters in 2004. Unfortunately, it would also provide one of the first signature Shyamalan plot bombs that didn't go over too well with audiences.
During the movie's closing act, it's revealed that not only are the film's monsters basically made up, but that its events actually take place in modern times. The village elders maintain the illusion of the monsters and 19th century technology to keep their community segregated from the outside world. Not only does this essentially gut the film's horror elements, but it introduces a great many plot holes that can't be reconciled.
6 The Descent (US Ending) (2005)
While The Descent was a pretty solid horror outing in most respects, and its great all-female leading cast and claustrophobic setting in the caves were big contributors. And while the UK cut went for a boldly hopeless finale, it was deemed too much for American audiences, and pared down to a near non-event.
The UK ending loops back to Sarah having hallucinated her escape, and confronting an extremely dire situation as the crawlers converge on her in the cave. The US version trades this cruel misdirection for the typical final girl trope, sliding in a cheap jump scare towards the end in a flimsy attempt to save face.
5 The Happening (2008)
Seeing M. Night Shyamalan pop up more than once on this list shouldn't surprise anyone, as his infamous plot twists have churned out roughly as many successes as they have total failures. The Happening, obviously, manifests pretty strongly as one of the latter.
Whether intentional irony or not, the climax of The Happening results in... well, nothing happening. Elliott, Alma, and Jess emerge from hiding to confront the frustratingly ambiguous "happening" only to find that it's not happening anymore. They live happily ever after. The end.
4 American Psycho 2 (2002)
American Psycho 2 channels the classic horror of the original in name alone, and chances are that most horror fans found themselves thoroughly disappointed (and borderline outraged) within the film's opening few scenes. But just when one thinks it couldn't possibly get any worse, it truly outdoes itself with the ending.
Where the ending to the original American Psycho was deeply cerebral and contemplative, the sequel's wrap is almost insultingly absurd, with murder-protagonist Rachael simply faking her death after a terribly plotted car chase and an impossible procession of circumstances.
3 Drag Me To Hell (2009)
2009's Drag Me to Hell had a great spread of visually impressive gags, and its plot held a good ratio between delightfully campy classic horror tropes and modern filmmaking techniques to produce an enjoyable horror experience. Until the plot's conclusion rendered most of it pointless, that is.
After protagonist Christine manages to get rid of a cursed button that's going to actually get her dragged to hell in a few days' time if she doesn't manage to ditch it, things seem like they're going okay. But she then realizes that she got rid of the wrong envelope, and gets dragged down to hell anyway. It's jarring, sudden, and a lot less than creative.
2 It Follows (2015)
It Follows saw significant critical praise when it released in 2015, which might seem a bit strange considering it revolves around a concept as ludicrous as what is essentially a sexually transmitted demon. But nonetheless, it apparently struck a good chord with critics.
Putting aside the strangeness of the core concept, the visuals were appropriately creepy and there certainly were some great scenes, none of which involve the ending. The protagonists apparently kill the demon, go on to live their lives, and then it's revealed that it's not dead. It's formulaic, less than inventive, and does nothing to follow up on a concept that is, if nothing else, unique.
1 The Devil Inside (2012)
The Devil Inside was a bland mishmash of mockumentary filmmaking with the longstanding exorcism trope, resulting in an unexciting, though not altogether awful horror offering. That is until the ending is taken into consideration, anyway, which thoroughly trashes any glimmer of potential it might've had.
After a lazily executed twist which results in the possessed Isabella going free to do spooky stuff at large, the film has the audacity to end with a title card saying that the case of the Rossi family is "unresolved," further directing them towards a website to keep up with the "ongoing investigation." Even beyond horror flicks, this contends as one of the worst movie endings of all time.