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Horror Movies Where Nobody Survives

The main objective in most horror movies is pretty simple — survive. But while audiences usually find themselves rooting for the main cast to make it out unscathed, not every horror flick finishes up with a happy ending. In many cases, not only do we lose a few friendly faces along the way, but all of the characters we've come to know and love are sliced and diced before the film fades to black. And in some gruesome occasions, the death toll can even extend past the core group of characters, reaching the thousands, the millions, or even the billions. 

From evil witches and radioactivity to flesh-eating diseases and ravenous sharks, there are a near-infinite amount of obstacles that prevent "survivors" from being a lasting descriptor. If you're looking for some of the more pessimistic examples the genre has to offer, here are the horror movies that show no mercy for their cast of characters.

(Be warned — major spoilers below.)

Nobody survives the horrors of Cabin Fever

In Cabin Fever, a group of college friends decide to go out into the woods and rent a cabin where they can drink, bond around the campfire, and maybe even get frisky. However, their fun is cut short when a desperately sick man makes his way to their cabin, begging for help. But even though they chase him off, our unlikable heroes soon realize they've been infected by their unwelcome visitor. Those infected with the disgusting disease begin bleeding profusely and forming a necrotic rash that makes infected flesh easy to peel off ... and then they start throwing up blood.

After one of the group catches the disease and quickly deteriorates, everything quickly spirals out of control as the infection spreads, and the group is effectively trapped without help. Eventually, none of the main cast is left standing, all falling victim to the plague or the locals trying to contain it by any means necessary. However, the locals' victory is short-lived, as they dump a murdered body in a nearby creek, causing the virus to spread through the water supply. So, in a tragically funny twist, the whole town is destined to get sick as the credits start to roll.

Dawn of the Dead gets down with the sickness

Dawn of the Dead, the 2004 remake of George Romero's 1978 classic, is a zombie film focusing on a group of survivors navigating a zombie apocalypse and society's subsequent fall. The plot follows Ana, a Milwaukee nurse, as she finds refuge from the zombified hordes in a mall that's become a massive shelter for a select group of survivors. However, the mall isn't entirely safe, as some refugees hide zombie bites (which spread the disease), some fight among themselves, and the undead surround the outside. 

Soon, the mall's unstable state prompts the remaining survivors to form a plan to retreat aboard a yacht, allowing them to ride out the zombie apocalypse on a small island in Lake Michigan, but it'll be tough getting from Milwaukee to their destination. After all, Ana and the other survivors have very limited information about the outside world. Armed with a little bit of zombie knowledge, an armored bus or two, and a gun's store worth of arms and ammunition, the survivors have a bumpy road ahead of them leading to the marina.

Many lives are lost trying to get to the island, but in the end, Ana and the remaining survivors don't find the refuge they were seeking. Instead, they discover only more zombies, hungry for fresh blood. When the group arrives, they're rushed by a horde as "Down with the Sickness" by Disturbed blares over the credits, making it pretty clear that the survivors are dead meat.

Everybody on Earth dies in The Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the Woods is a horror comedy about a group of college students who set out on a trip to an isolated cabin. But unbeknownst to the kids, they're being manipulated by a secret agency that's controlling their actions with pheromones, causing the students to act like stereotypical horror movie characters. Worse still, the government agents release a group of monsters onto our heroes, forcing the kids to face down these paranormal terrors.

As the group is slowly axed off, it's revealed that the entire fate of the world is dependent on each member of the group being sacrificed. The annual slaughter is done to appeal to a group of god-like beasts known as "the Ancient Ones," and as part of the ritual, five humans are murdered by some pretty ghastly creatures. And the five specially selected victims each represent five horror archetypes — the whore, the athlete, the scholar, the fool, and the virgin. According to the rules, the whore must die first, followed by most everyone else, while the virgin can either live or die last. 

While this morbid plan doesn't sound incredible for the victims, the alternative is much worse. If the agency fails to carry out the sacrifice, it would mean the end of the world, courtesy of the Ancient Ones, which is exactly what ends up happening. The virgin and the fool decide that they won't uphold this deranged system of sacrifice and sit together as the world crumbles, leaving the film on a rare earnest note.

Open Water is real-life horror at its scariest

Loosely inspired by a true story, Open Water follows Daniel and Susan, an ill-fated couple who decide to take a scuba diving trip. While their time out in the ocean is a magical experience at first, it devolves into a horrifying ordeal once Daniel and Susan realize their group has accidentally left them behind. Their boat is nowhere to be found, help is seemingly out of the question, and the two are left floating in the ocean, hoping for someone to realize they're missing.

With hungry sharks down below, a lack of food and water, and their bodies quickly tiring out, their hope for survival is razor-thin at best. As the couple grows weaker and their spirits fade, they begin to bicker with each other instead of fighting for survival. By the time the scuba company realizes they've made an error counting their returning divers, the two are miles from help with little chance of beating the ocean's sharks or the dangerous currents.

The idea of being stranded alone in the ocean is a terrifying concept on its own. However, being surrounded by a swarm of ocean-dwellers waiting to make you their dinner is arguably worse. However, the real horror of Open Water isn't the emotional turmoil, the sense of powerlessness, or even the sharks. Instead, it's how one simple mistake can end in disaster.

Hereditary has one of horror's darkest endings

From start to finish, Hereditary is filled with tragedy and sorrow for the Graham family. Beginning with the death of her elderly mother, Annie begins group therapy to deal with her complicated emotions regarding her mom, as well as the long list of mental health issues that run in her family. While Annie tackles this difficult time in her life, she must also confront an even more upsetting event — the death of her young daughter.

After Annie's daughter, Charlie, is decapitated in a freak accident with her son, Peter, behind the wheel, the Graham family is thrown into chaos. Annie and Peter's relationship becomes irreversibly strained, and Annie's husband struggles to keep the family together. And after Annie is taught how to perform a seance to speak with Charlie, Peter begins to have freaky visions and acts very strangely. Meanwhile, Annie becomes convinced that her mother was the leader of some cult who worships the demon Paimon.

As Annie delves deeper and deeper into the cult's secrets, her family falls victim to the group's clutches. By the end of the film, all of the Grahams have perished in the grisliest ways possible (piano wire, anyone?), and Paimon has found a new home in Peter's body. While the entirety of the film is incredibly disturbing, one of the most unsettling aspects is the level of manipulation executed by the cult to orchestrate the events in the film. Annie is unable to break free of their influence, and as a result, everything falls into place just as her mother wanted. 

No one comes home in Apollo 18

Apollo 18 is a found-footage film about the United State's canceled Apollo 18 mission to the Moon in 1973. The film's premise is that the mission actually went forward, but none of the members ever safely returned. Apollo 18 is framed as an edited-together compilation of the lost footage from the mission, showing what the government has sought to hide from the public.

Once the top-secret Apollo 18 mission is in full swing, Commander Nathan Walker and Captain Ben Anderson are launched to the Moon to place detectors that will alert the United States of any movements from the USSR cosmonauts on the lunar surface. Meanwhile, Lt. Col. John Grey is put in orbit while the other men work below. Though the group initially believes they're alone, they become a bit uneasy once they start hearing strange noises and discover the body of a dead Soviet cosmonaut. Fearing Russian sabotage or even something more terrifying, the crew scrambles to leave the Moon, but the extraterrestrial beings that killed the cosmonaut prey on the Americans just the same. 

Sadly, this hasty retreat from the Moon's surface causes the lunar lander to crash into the ship that would've taken them all home, which ultimately results in an official cover-up. Though Apollo 18 might not offer a historically accurate representation of events, the film provides some interesting conspiratorial food for thought. After all, what's scarier? The dark side of the Moon? Or the dark side of your own government?

Quarantine is an incredibly hopeless zombie flick

In Quarantine, news reporter Angela and cameraman Scott shadow a duo of firefighters during their night shift. While following the firefighters, Angela and Scott record the night's events for their television program. But while on what appears to be a routine medical call, the group arrives at an apartment building and is immediately met with a nightmarish scene.

An elderly woman is screaming hysterically and lunges at a police officer, biting and killing him. Though the inside of the building is filled with chaos and confusion, authorities have quarantined the apartment from the outside, and no one is allowed to leave. Anyone who was attacked by the deranged woman begins to show concerning symptoms. A veterinarian recognizes these as abnormally advanced rabies symptoms and explains that once infected, there's likely no cure. Slowly, the disease spreads through the building as more residents get infected. And just as Angela and Scott learn of a possible way out, they find they can't navigate the pitch-black basement and tragically become infected as well.

Though most zombie films take place after society has fallen apart, Quarantine paints a chilling picture of how a zombie apocalypse could begin to flourish. Put in a situation where they can't trust the authorities or even each other, Quarantine depicts a hopeless situation that grows more and more out of control by the minute.

Chernobyl Diaries is a bleak warning against dark tourism

Released in 2012, Chernobyl Diaries follows a group of friends traveling across Europe, and along the way, they decide to get a small taste of extreme tourism. Their destination is Pripyat, the abandoned town that lies just outside the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, and under the surveillance of their guide, Yuri, they set off for the abandoned town. However, they meet an unexpected bump in the road when the Ukrainian military turns Yuri away at the town's entrance, stating that they're doing maintenance, and no one is allowed inside.

Tragically, the tourists convince Yuri to sneak them in through a back entrance, and the tour continues onward as planned. At first, everything is quiet in the abandoned town, and it appears as if the eager tourists are alone. But our heroes quickly learn there's more to fear in Pripyat than just radiation poisoning. Specifically, a pack of humanoid mutants have set up camp in Pripyat, and they start picking off the group one by one.

Chernobyl Diaries is a cautionary tale about the dark tourism industry and a reminder that the old saying "curiosity killed the cat" does hold true. So the next time you consider a trip to Chernobyl for the perfect Instagram shot, maybe think twice on the off-chance that something ghastly is waiting inside.

Not even the A-listers survive in Life

The plot of Life kicks off when a space probe returns from Mars with soil samples containing extraterrestrial (you guessed it) life. As a result, the six-member crew of the International Space Station springs into action to revive the dormant cell. The life form (referred to as "Calvin") turns into a multi-celled organism and is studied by the crew for further information. Calvin grows at an unprecedented rate and displays characteristics unlike any organic life on Earth.

But unfortunately, Calvin isn't super friendly, and it attacks the crew and manages to escape its confinement. To make matters worse, Calvin can consume other life forms to grow in size, it shows a unique resistance to heat, and it kills a crew member by eating him from the inside. With this terrifying alien loose on the station, the remaining crew members are at a distinct disadvantage. As they struggle to contain the beast, the crew finds out that this extraterrestrial is extra dangerous, and their attempts to destroy Calvin all end in disaster.

But more tragic is the crew's failure to keep Calvin away from Earth. Despite their best efforts, the extraterrestrial manages to land safely. To some extent, Life gives viewers a small glimpse into a nightmarish alternate universe where the Xenomorph from the Alien franchise killed Ripley and successfully spread to Earth. In Life, the alien creature succeeds — not even Ryan Reynolds or Jake Gyllenhaal can beat it — and the implications don't bode well for the rest of humanity.

In Unfriended, the real horror isn't a ghost

After an embarrassing video of high school student Laura Barns is leaked online, Laura tragically dies by suicide. A year following the cyberbullying incident, Laura is on a routine Skype call with her friends, and all seems par for the course ... until a strange user going by "billie227" enters the call.

Confused about how this unknown caller infiltrated their group chat, Laura and her friends try and fail to remove "billie" from the call. Eerily, when Blaire investigates the account, she discovers that it once belonged to Laura Barns. At first, the group believes that they're being pranked, but of course, this turns out to be false. In a horrifying turn of events, "billie" becomes hostile towards the other members of the Skype call, and it becomes clear the vengeful spirit of Laura Barns has come back to haunt Blaire and her friends. As retribution for her death, "billie" exposes each of Blaire's friends as terrible backstabbers and forces them to kill themselves on the call.

Unfriended serves as a cautionary tale about the consequences of cyberbullying. While it's unlikely any ghosts will seek out revenge, the film acknowledges the actual harm that can follow online actions. In Unfriended, the real monster isn't the ghost. It's Blaire and her group of terrible friends. 

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Nobody survives in The Blair Witch Project

In The Blair Witch Project, film students Heather, Josh, and Mike embark on a quest to document the legend of the titular Blair Witch. After interviewing some locals about the monster, the three learn of multiple instances of people going missing or being murdered in the woods. These occurrences are attributed to the fabled witch, and after their preliminary research, the students head into the forest to look for evidence of their own.

Immediately, the group begins to notice some strange happenings that catch them off guard, from bizarre stick figures to super creepy voices. And eventually, Josh has a breakdown and flees into the woods. After a few nights of hearing his screams, Heather and Mike track him to an abandoned house ... where they hear Josh calling from the basement. And that's when someone — or something — attacks Heather and Mike, and the three are never heard from again. 

While the group's fate is certainly clear, the existence of the Blair Witch is left to interpretation. Is there an actual witch lurking in the woods, or is she a result of the film students' fragile psyches? Either way, The Blair Witch Project will likely keep you from setting foot in the woods for a long time to come.