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Best horror movie endings of this century

In Secret Window, Johnny Depp famously said the most important part of the story is the ending. While that might be a slight exaggeration, it is safe to say that a good ending can make or break a horror movie. Fortunately for fright fans, the 21st century has been full of fantastic finales that have sent us scrambling under the covers in fear—and from ghostly apparitions to bloodthirsty vampires, here are the greatest. And no, Secret Window won't be making the list, but you should be aware that we're about to dish out a lot of spooky spoilers.

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The Others (2001)

Directed by Alejandro Amenábar, The Others is an atmospheric film that follows the unfortunate Stewart family—Roman Catholic Grace (Nicole Kidman) and her creepy kids (Alakina Mann and James Bradley)—as they slowly but surely realize their home is haunted. Doors are closing by themselves, and the piano is playing on its own. There's a couple roaming the hallways, a dead boy hiding behind the curtains, and—worst of all—a freaky blind lady lurking in the shadows.

But when Grace and her children stumble upon a séance in the attic, they suddenly realize they're the ones who are dead. As the memories come flooding back, Grace remembers that she murdered her children after temporarily going insane. After realizing what she'd done, Grace killed herself, damning her family to an eternity inside their creaky mansion.

It's a gut-punch of a twist, especially thanks to the look of horror on Kidman's face. It also changes the entire film when you realize the so-called ghosts that have been scaring the Stewarts are actually living people who've moved into Grace's old home. They're the ones being haunted by Grace and her kids, and they were so freaked out that they even asked a spiritualist—the blind lady—for assistance. It's a pretty brilliant ending, and we've got to give Amenábar credit for pulling it off just two years after The Sixth Sense shocked moviegoers with a similar twist.

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Saw (2004)

These days, Jigsaw is one of the most famous bad guys to ever torture someone on the big screen, but in 2004, when the first Saw film hit theaters, audiences had no idea what the infamous serial killer actually looked like. In fact, for most of the movie, everybody suspected that Zep Hindle (Michael Emerson of Lost fame) was the psycho who chained up poor Adam (Leigh Whannell) in that bathroom dungeon.

But after our hero bashes Zep to death, he discovers a cassette that reveals the hospital orderly was just another victim in Jigsaw's game. And as Adam begins to process this new bit of info, we watch in horror as a dead body—which has been lying on the bathroom floor for the whole movie—crawls up off the floor. Yep, this corpse is the killer himself, John Kramer (Tobin Bell), and when Jigsaw walks out of the bathroom, he leaves his latest victim chained to a pipe, parting with his trademark line: "Game over."

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The Mist (2007)

Honestly, the ending of The Mist needs no introduction. It's bleak, ugly, nihilistic, and far darker than Stephen King's original story. If you're at all familiar with scary cinema, then you know the movie involves a supermarket full of people surrounded by an otherworldly mist. Unfortunately for the people trapped in the store, this freaky fog is full of Lovecraftian monsters with some pretty sharp teeth.

However, things aren't much better inside, especially with a religious nut (Marcia Gay Harden) encouraging the crowd to perform a human sacrifice. Deciding to take their chances with the flesh-eating bugs, a group of survivors led by artist David Drayton (Thomas Jane) drives into the mist, but they don't get very far before realizing escape is futile. With no hope in sight, David and his crew agree that death by pistol is far preferable than death via demon spiders.

Cue one of the most controversial finales in horror history when David mercifully executes his friends and his own son. Out of bullets, he staggers into the mist, hoping some creature will end his life. And that's when the mist clears and the military rolls by, ready for battle. If only David had waited just a few seconds, his son would've been okay, and we all could've been spared that emotional devastation.

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You're Next (2011)

From the twisted minds of Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, You're Next is equal parts horrific and hilarious. The plot follows a group of upper-class people traveling to an isolated mansion for a family reunion. But hey, family reunions are often awkward and uncomfortable, and that's especially true if a trio of killers show up sporting animal masks and carrying all sorts of weapons.

With a little inside help, the murderers begin picking off the family members one by one, but they meet their match in Erin (Sharni Vinson), an Australian who grew up in a survivalist compound. In other words, she's the perfect person to have around when mercenaries show up, as she can take villains down with everyday items like screwdrivers and blenders. Unfortunately, her tactics backfire after she sets an axe trap above a door. In the final minutes of the movie, a police officer finally shows up and mistakes Erin for one of the killers, putting a bullet into our hero. But things get even grislier when the cop tries to come inside. Despite Erin's warnings, the officer steps through, the axe swings down, and a bloody title card pops up onscreen as we're treated to the wonderfully ironic "Looking for the Magic." Accidental death has never been this entertaining.

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The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Possibly the most meta horror movie ever made, The Cabin in the Woods follows a bunch of college students who foolishly spend a weekend in a creepy forest. Naturally, their little getaway doesn't go as planned, and they quickly discover they're meant to be sacrifices in an elaborate ritual to please some angry ancient entities.

With a family of undead rednecks hot on their trail, the two remaining survivors (Kristen Connolly and Fran Kranz) find themselves trapped in an underground bunker, surrounded by a bunch of goons with machine guns. Without any other choice, our heroes unleash an army of monsters, resulting in one of the wildest, you-won't-believe-it-until-you-see-it sequences in horror cinema.

Pretty much every creature you can imagine shows up, ready to do some damage. We've got a knockoff Pennywise, an imitation Pinhead, and masked murderers straight out of The Strangers. There's a giant snake, an enormous bat, and one unfriendly unicorn. By the time the zombies, ghosts, and werewolves are finished slaughtering everyone in sight, the walls are caked with blood, the earth is doomed, and audiences have had a gory good time.

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Kill List (2012)

Directed by Ben Wheatley, Kill List starts off as a disturbing little thriller that takes a shocking turn into Wicker Man territory. The story follows two hit men—Jay (Neil Maskell) and Gal (Michael Smiley)—hired by a mysterious organization to murder three seemingly random people. Stranger still, the victims all thank Jay before he ends their lives, leaving the assassins completely confused.

Ultimately, their "kill list" leads them into the English countryside where they're attacked by a creepy cult. Gal is savagely murdered, and Jay is forced to battle against a hooded, hunchbacked man. As you might assume, this knife fight is no problem for Jay, who's had plenty of killing experience. He dispatches the hunchback with relative ease, but after stabbing his deformed foe multiple times, he's shocked when the cloak is pulled back to reveal his dying wife (MyAnna Buring).

Worse still, the "hunchback's" bump is actually their young son (Harry Simpson), strapped to his mom's back as part of an occult ritual. Absolutely stunned that he's just butchered his family, Jay disappears into his own mind as the cultists applaud the kill and place a crown atop his head.

Long story short: Kill List is one messed-up movie.

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The Guest (2014)

The Guest feels like a movie that John Carpenter might've directed in his prime, complete with a madman that just can't be killed. The chaos begins when veteran David Collins (Dan Stevens) visits the family of a fallen comrade. At first, David seems like a cool guy, and he's invited into the family's home, but under that charming, hunky exterior, there's an ultra-aggressive super soldier waiting to explode.

Several plot turns and a whole lot of sexual tension later, David is chasing our sibling heroes—Anna (Maika Monroe) and Luke (Brendan Meyer)—through a high school haunted house. And as he's just murdered their parents, chances are pretty good David didn't follow them there for the Halloween dance.

Unfortunately for David, he's majorly underestimated his prey, and Luke stabs the psycho in the heart, vampire style. The authorities soon arrive on the scene, and it looks like Anna and Luke are finally safe…until a familiar-looking fireman walks out of the gym, giving Anna a meaningful glance before disappearing into the darkness, Michael Myers-style.

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Only Lovers Left Alive (2014)

Two of the sexiest and strangest people on the planet, Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton were born to play vampires. So naturally, they're perfect as Adam and Eve, the undead protagonists of Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive. Brooding, mysterious, and artistically inclined, this vampire couple has spent the last several centuries making music, reading books, and hobnobbing with the most creative minds in history.

But their erudite existence is threatened after the death of Adam's familiar (Anton Yelchin) and the arrival of some nosy music groupies. The two take off for Tangier, but that poses a bit of a problem. Unlike, say, Count Dracula, Adam and Eve don't drink blood straight from human victims. Fearing they might get sick after slurping down a bad batch, they instead buy their supply from hospitals and blood dealers.

However, when they arrive in Morocco, the duo quickly runs out of clean blood. Unable to find a new supplier, they begin wasting away until they spot a couple making out. Even though biting necks is so 15th century, the desperate creatures approach the young lovers, and right before the screen cuts to black, we see Adam and Eve with their fangs exposed, ready to feast.

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It Follows (2015)

The second movie starring Maika Monroe to make our list, It Follows did something very few horror films ever do: create a truly original monster. Basically an STD on two legs, the titular "It" is spread via sex, and if you contract the curse, this enigmatic monster will mercilessly hunt you down. And if it kills you, it then goes after the person who gave you the curse…and so on and so on forever.

Sure, the creature moves pretty slowly, but this thing can take any form necessary to get close enough for the kill. And no matter what, it never stops following—unless you push it into a pool and electrocute it. Well, that's what our hero Jay (Monroe) hopes, anyway. After picking up the curse courtesy of a one-night stand, she does her best to fry the monster with every electronic device she can get her hands on. And just to play it safe, she has sex with her friend Paul (Keir Gilchrist), who then passes the curse on to a prostitute, just in case the thing comes back.

And that leads us to the final eerie image of Jay and Paul walking down a neighborhood street, thinking maybe their terror is finally over. But in the distance, there's a man slowly coming down the sidewalk. Maybe it's just a guy getting some exercise, maybe it's someone looking for directions…or maybe it's a creature that can never die, coming back for round two. We never learn for sure as the screen cuts to black, leaving Jay's fate to the imagination.

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The Invitation (2015)

A powerful examination of grief and suffering, Karyn Kusama's The Invitation is like Manchester by the Sea with a lot more murder. The story focuses on a man named Will (Logan Marshall-Green) who's grappling with the loss of his young son. Will's life only gets more complicated after he receives a dinner invitation from his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard). He isn't the only one to show up at the party, either—Eden has invited all their old friends from back in the day, but this isn't exactly a fun affair.

Beneath the polite conversation and idle chitchat, Will can sense there's something strange going on (even though no one else has the courage to say so). Eden and her new husband David (Michiel Huisman) are promoting some bizarre cult, and there's an incredibly eerie giant who looks like John Carroll Lynch lurking in the background, keeping an eye on everyone at the party.

As the evening wears on, Will begins to suspect there's foul play afoot, and he's particularly baffled when he spies David walking into the back yard and lighting a red lantern. But Will kind of forgets that little detail when Eden, David, and two cult members (Lynch included) go into Charles Manson mode, butchering every guest they can get their hands on. Fortunately, Will survives the assault, but as he steps outside, he sees that almost every house in sight has a red lantern shining outside. It's a simple yet haunting image—one that may keep you from attending many dinner parties in the near future.

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Krampus (2015)

Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but it's hard to enjoy the holidays when your family won't stop bickering. Fed up and frustrated with his unruly relatives, young Max Engel (Emjay Anthony) loses the Christmas spirit, tears up his letter to Santa, and tosses the shreds out the window. Little does Max know he's just summoned the biggest Scrooge of all, a horned beast named Krampus who plans on punishing Max's entire family.

Soon enough, the Engels and their extended kin are forced to band together in order to fight off waves of satanic toys, killer cookies, and angry elves. But despite their best efforts, Krampus wins the day, casting poor Max down into the underworld…or does he? Shortly after encountering the Christmas demon, Max wakes up to find the whole invasion was just a dream, and soon, he's peacefully celebrating Christmas with his entire family

However, the upbeat mood takes a sharp nosedive when Max finds a little bell with the word "Krampus" etched into the side. It's a gift from the big guy himself, a perverted present that lets Max and his family know they'll have plenty of time to enjoy the holidays because they'll be trapped in Christmas hell for all of eternity.

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The Witch (2016)

Life in the 17th century wasn't a lot of fun, especially if you were living next to a wicked witch. That's something William (Ralph Ineson) and his Puritan family find out the hard way when they're kicked out of their community and forced into the wilderness. Out in the woods, there are demonic forces everywhere, but while the family's prayers go unanswered, the Prince of Darkness is keeping pretty busy.

Showing up as the murderous goat Black Phillip, the devil does a pretty good job of tearing the family apart—quite literally in some cases. Soon, the only member who isn't dead or missing is eldest daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy). Left all alone in the middle of nowhere and feeling cut off from the Almighty, Thomasin strikes a deal with Satan, exchanging her soul for the chance to live deliciously.

Following Black Phillip's commands, Thomasin strips nude and wanders into the woods, where she discovers a coven of witches convulsing around a fire. Soon, the crones begin to rise into the air, with Thomasin flying right behind them. It's every Puritan's greatest fear come true, but for Thomasin, it's probably the first time she's felt truly free.

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Get Out (2017)

A modern-day masterpiece, Jordan Peele's Get Out almost had a radically different ending. Originally, Peele planned on having his main character, Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), arrested after escaping the clutches of the mind-controlling Armitage family. Fortunately, the writer-director had a change of heart and crafted a new ending that left audiences cheering instead of crying.

To set the scene, Chris has just narrowly avoided the lobotomy to end all lobotomies, and during his getaway, he murders every evil white person who steps into his path. This eventually ends with Chris standing above his psycho ex-girlfriend as she's bleeding out on a country road. Suddenly, flashing lights appear in the distance, and we assume the worst is about to happen. But instead of the law showing up to cart Chris away, who should step out of the car but Chris's best friend, TSA Officer Rod Williams (Lil Rel Howery). As Rod takes Chris back to safety, everyone in the audience breathes a sigh of relief, knowing full-well this kind of upbeat ending rarely happens in real life.

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Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Granted, most horror films end on a downbeat note, especially zombie movies. For proof, just check out George Romero's entire undead filmography. But fortunately for moviegoers, Edgar Wright decided to break that tradition with Shaun of the Dead.

This horror-comedy does have its fair share of terrifying moments (like when David is eaten alive), not to mention scenes that will leave you emotionally wrecked for days (like when Shaun is forced to shoot his mom). Honestly, Shaun of the Dead's climax is one of the darkest moments Edgar Wright has ever directed, culminating with Shaun (Simon Pegg) tearfully saying goodbye to his friend Ed (Nick Frost) who's dying of a zombie bite.

But in the last scene of the film, Wright sends the audience off with a lighthearted moment between old buddies. After surviving the apocalypse, we see Shaun has somehow corralled a zombified Ed into the garden shed behind his house. And sure, Ed might try to take a bite out of his old pal every now and then, but for the most part, the two are content to sit back, relax, and play video games, just like they did in the good old days.

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The Descent (2005)

The Descent has everything you'd want in a horror film: plenty of gore, great performances, practical effects… and two endings? That's right. There are two versions of this British horror film, one released in the U.K. and one in the US. And while both are equally dark, the original British version is far superior and far more heartbreaking.

The Descent follows six women who head into an unexplored cave system and find themselves being hunted by a legion of cannibalistic "crawlers." The gory film comes to a close after our last surviving character, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald), spots a shaft of light atop a hill of bones. Covered in blood, Sarah makes a mad scramble for the exit, leaving the cave-dwelling creatures behind. Emerging into the sunlight, Sarah hops in a car and makes her great escape, but that all comes to a screaming halt when she sees the ghost of her old friend Juno (Natalie Mendoza), a woman Sarah just murdered for having an affair with her husband.

That's where the U.S. version ends, with a terrified Sarah haunted by the guilt of her crime. But in the original U.K. version, there are a few extra seconds that reveal Sarah never escaped the caverns. That whole sequence was just a dream Sarah had after tumbling down a shaft and hitting her head. Once she wakes up, she loses all touch with reality. In her last moments, Sarah sees her long-dead daughter sitting a few feet away, greeting her mother with a birthday cake. (The kid died on her birthday, and that trauma has been following Sarah for the entire film.) Of course, there's no little girl, and the flames from the birthday candles are really Sarah's torch. Worst of all, there's no exit nearby. Sarah is still trapped, and there's no escaping the crawlers as they move in for the kill. But at least she'll get to share her last few seconds with her daughter, even if it's all in her head.

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Let the Right One In (2008)

At first, it might seem like Let the Right One In ends on an upbeat note. In fact, you might be tempted to describe it as romantic. Two star-crossed lovers — Oskar, a 12-year-old boy, and Eli, a vampire who looks like a young girl — have just escaped a Swedish town filled with sadists and snow. They're bound together by murder and romance, and now they're on a train heading for freedom. Light-sensitive Eli (Lina Leandersson) is hidden away inside a box, but Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) keeps the creature company by tapping out sweet Morse Code messages, letting Eli know they'll always be together.

This is not a happy ending.

We've already seen what happens to people who pledge their lives to Eli. In the first half of the film, Eli was palling around with an adult named Hakan, who had the grisly job of hunting down humans and draining them of their blood in order to keep Eli fed. But Hakan eventually botches a job so badly that he knows his arrest is imminent; wanting to keep Eli safe, he disfigures his own face so the cops can't identify him and won't trace him back to the vampire.

In fact, Hakan's dedication to Eli is so extreme that when the vampire shows up for a late-night hospital visit, he lets the undead beast feast on his blood. And really, that's exactly what's in store for Oskar. We already know this kid has both a love for Eli and an obsession with murder. Sooner or later, Oskar will dedicate his life to draining people dry, and sooner or later, he'll find himself haunted by his deeds and replaced by somebody younger after ending up the next meal for an undead adolescent. So much for all that cute Morse Code.

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The Babadook (2014)

Directed by Jennifer Kent, The Babadook belongs to a very unique subgenre of scary films: movies about parents who can't stand their kids. But unlike other movies in that genre — e.g. The Shining and We Need to Talk About Kevin — The Babadook actually ends on an upbeat note. The terrorized mom overcomes her demons and starts a new life for herself and her son. Of course, the ending leaves audiences wondering just how real those demons actually are. Is the titular spirit a real-life monster or simply a metaphor for the destructive power of repressed grief? Well, the answer is yes.

Amelia (Essie Davis) has a lot of bad stuff happening in her life. She was widowed the same day she gave birth to her pint-sized monster of a son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman). Now, whenever she sees her kid, she can only think about her dead husband. Needless to say, Amelia isn't handling her grief well. She's let it fester and grow for so long that there's now a fanged creature with a fondness for pop-up books hanging around her house. The Babadook even possesses Amelia, forcing her to try and murder Samuel. But after driving the demon out, Amelia comes to terms with her grief and sends the Babadook scurrying down to the basement.

In the film's final minutes, we see a transformed Amelia in her garden. The aching sadness is gone from her eyes, there's a smile on her face where there wasn't before, and her anger towards Samuel has disappeared. Together, the two search their yard for worms, and after filling a bowl with the creatures, Amelia takes the dish down to the basement, where she offers the worms to the Babadook. Even though she's exorcised the beast, he's still lurking down there, and just like Amelia's grief, he'll never go away completely. But he can't possess her anymore. He's still around, but he's beaten, and while he might roar from time to time, he'll never get out of the basement again.

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Split (2017)

Fair or not, M. Night Shyamalan movies are always judged on the strength of their endings. The Sixth Sense had one of the all-time best plot twists, and since then, audiences have been hoping Shyamalan would top himself someday. But while he's occasionally struggled with sticking the landing, Shyamalan recaptured some of that Sixth Sense glory with Split, a horror film that was secretly a superhero movie the whole time (well, a supervillain movie, if you want to get technical).

This 2017 hit follows a disturbed dude named Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), a man with 24 personalities bouncing around his brain. Some are friendly, some are dangerous, but the dreaded Beast is a straight-up monster — a cannibalistic creature who can scale walls, bend metal, and deflect gunshots. In the final three minutes of the film, after the climactic showdown with kidnapping victim Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy), we watch as Kevin examines himself in a mirror, awestruck that he's just survived a shotgun blast to the chest. And that's where the movie proper ends, with Kevin's evil personalities basking in their new abilities and plotting their war on the impure.

That right there would be a killer ending, but as the Split title card gives way to an after-credit scene, a familiar soundtrack kicks in, and the film suddenly cuts to a diner. The horrified patrons are watching a news report about the Beast, and this superpowered creature reminds one customer of a previous supervillain called Mr. Glass, the mad genius from Shyamalan's 2002 film, Unbreakable. And that's when see David Dunn (Bruce Willis), sipping coffee at the end of the bar and realizing it's time to grab his green raincoat. In just one minute, the entire fabric of the film has been changed. This isn't just a horror movie, it's a stealth sequel to Unbreakable — and one that promises an epic showdown between an unstoppable villain and an immovable hero.

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A Quiet Place (2018)

Directed by John Krasinski, A Quiet Place was a critical and commercial smash when it hit theaters in 2018, and one of the reasons the film was so successful is the fact that it features one of the most badass endings in horror movie history.

Set in the near future, A Quiet Place focuses on the uber-resourceful Abbott family trying to survive in a world plagued by monsters. These extraterrestrial creatures are blind, but their sense of hearing is incredibly acute. Knock over a lantern, trip on the stairs, or shout in pain, and they'll slice you in half. On top of that, they're covered in a natural bulletproof armor, making them impossible to kill. As a result, the Abbotts must adapt to live in a world without sound, keeping as quiet as possible at all times.

Of course, that's just everyday life for Regan Abbott (Millicent Simmonds). She's deaf, so communicating every thought with sign language is nothing new for her. Still, her father (Krasinski) desperately hopes to help with her disability, so he spends his spare time designing cochlear implants. Sadly, the devices never really work, but at the end of the film, Regan discovers her hearing aid is actually the super weapon she needs to fight back against the creatures.

See, the creatures' ears are incredibly sensitive, and they can't stand the feedback from Regan's implant. So when she and the surviving family members are trapped in a basement by one of the beasts, Regan turns into Rambo, using her hearing aid to drive one of the monsters crazy. The monster starts to freak out and writhe in pain, allowing Regan's mother (Emily Blunt) to kill the weakened creature with a shotgun blast. Of course, the gunshot attracts the other nearby aliens, but the Abbotts aren't afraid. For once, they've got the upper hand, and as the evil E.T.s make a beeline for the basement, Regan gets her new weapon ready — and her mom racks another shell into her shotgun, ready to make some noise.

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Drag Me to Hell (2009)

Drag Me to Hell is ostensibly a horror comedy, but despite the gross-out gags, this 2009 film has one of the most shocking endings in horror history. When loan officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) refuses to extend a gypsy woman's mortgage, the vengeful old crone snatches a button off Christine's sleeve and uses it to curse our poor hero. In three days, a demon called the Lamia will drag Christine to hell, and he's going to torture her every second until that devilish date.

However, Christine discovers a way to escape the Lamia's clutches. If she gives the cursed button away, she can avoiding winding up in the underworld. Ready to get some revenge of her own, Christine gifts the button to the evil gypsy. Granted, that's a little complicated since the old woman died right after hexing Christine, but that doesn't stop her from digging up the corpse and shoving the button down her throat.

Only there's one little problem. Christine has been keeping the button in an envelope. Unfortunately, her boyfriend (Justin Long) has an identical envelope with a rare coin inside, and Christine gets the two confused. So after her late-night cemetery excursion, she goes to meet her beau at a train station, and that's when he casually mentions finding the button in his car. Terrified of what's about to happen, Christine absolutely freaks out, staggering backwards in shock, tumbling off the railway platform, and landing on the train tracks below.

But before she can get mercifully squished by an oncoming locomotive, the ground opens up, and she's dragged into hell by a mob of fiery arms. That look of horror on Long's face? That's what everybody is feeling as Christine screams and begs for help. But there's no happy ending here, no last-minute rescue. The Lamia will feast on Christine's soul for eternity, and with a hard cut to a creepy title card, that's one hell of a way to end a horror movie.

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Resolution (2013)

Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead, Resolution is a deeply unsettling film about two friends who are trapped in a real-life horror movie. When graphic designer Michael (Peter Cilella) receives a mysterious video from his junkie friend Chris (Vinny Curran), Michael decides it's intervention time. Chris spends his days doing meth and shooting guns into the sky, so Michael drives out to the country, handcuffs Chris to a pipe, and forces his buddy to go cold turkey.

However, the intervention veers into spooky territory when Michael starts discovering photos, records, and slides all around Chris' cabin. They all depict incredibly creepy stories that usually end in death, and things get way scarier when Michael and Chris start finding videos of themselves — videos that show them getting murdered by druggies.

The two eventually realize they're the victims of an evil entity that sees them as characters in a horror story. Terrified, Michael and Chris try their best to outsmart the beast, and near the end of the film, it look like they've created the perfect ending. The druggies who've been threatening them throughout the film are killed, the haunted cabin is set ablaze, and Chris decides to go to rehab. It's the perfect happy ending, one they hope will set them free… only the entity likes its endings dark.

As the cabin burns to the ground, the entity rears its monstrous head and confronts the two characters. Desperate for a second chance, Michael begs, "Can we try it another way?" That's when the entity lets loose with a dreadful roar, and the film cuts to black. It's a perfectly ambiguous ending, but if you're wondering what happened to Michael and Chris, you should check out the follow-up film, The Endless. We'll just say that Michael comes to regret his wish.

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The Blackcoat's Daughter (2015)

Horror movies often have twisted endings, but The Blackcoat's Daughter's is just downright sad. Directed by Oz Perkins, this atmospheric film follows two teenage girls left behind at a boarding school. The semester is over, but these two are stuck, their parents nowhere in sight. That's perfectly fine with Rose (Lucy Boynton), a senior with a secret she needs to deal with. But poor Kat (Kiernan Shipka in a phenomenally creepy performance) isn't handling the abandonment well. Thanks to a creepy dream about her parents' fate, she fears she'll be left alone forever.

So naturally, Kat makes a deal with the devil. Hey, you're never alone if you've got an evil spirit inside you. And while the demon makes her commit ghastly murders (poor Rose), Kat legitimately feels at peace. But after she's caught by the cops, an exorcist kicks the demon out of Kat, and even though she begs the spirit to stay, Old Scratch drifts away, leaving Kat all alone.

Years later, Kat (now played by Emma Roberts) has escaped from a mental hospital and plans on returning to her school, hoping to find her demonic buddy. Along the way, she's picked up a middle-aged couple (James Remar and Lauren Holly), who happen to be the parents of Rose, the senior that Kat decapitated back in the day. Things don't end well for the distraught parents, but when Kat shows up at the school with two fresh heads in tow, the demon is nowhere to be found. That's when it hits Kat that she'll be alone forever, and the film ends with her crying in the snow, abandoned by everyone — God, man, and the devil.

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Crimson Peak (2015)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro, Crimson Peak tells the devastating story of Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), an American heiress who marries charming English aristocrat Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). Sharpe is an inventor who lives in a mansion ravaged by time, a dying house sinking into the blood red earth. And when Edith arrives at Sharpe's crumbling estate, she learns she won't exactly be the lady of the house, as Thomas lives with his cold, calculating sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain).

Actually, Thomas and Lucille are doing way more than just living together. In addition to having an incestuous relationship, the penniless siblings have been keeping afloat by getting Thomas hitched to wealthy women and then killing off the unlucky brides. Thanks to some frightening but friendly ghosts, Edith discovers she's next on the Sharpes' list, but a lovestruck Thomas agrees to help Edith escape. Unfortunately, a jealous Lucille shanks Loki in the face, and now it's just the two ladies squaring off in the snow. Lucille morphs into a ghostly slasher, fluttering through the fog as Edith holds her off with a knife. And just as Lucille moves in for the kill, she's distracted by the sight of her spectral brother, giving Edith enough time to cave her head in with a shovel.

With Lucille down and out, Edith gives her ghostly husband one last goodbye before he disappears into nothingness. Edith then leaves Crimson Peak forever, but as our hero narrates over the final scene — explaining that some ghosts are trapped here forever because they're bound by powerful emotions — we see the dark spirit of Lucille, sitting at her piano, playing a mournful lullaby for time eternal. Sure, it's simple, but it's the perfect ending for this Gothic tale, a tragic finale haunted by heartbreak.

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Alien: Covenant (2016)

The Alien series has never been a feel-good franchise, but when it comes to downbeat endings, Alien: Covenant goes darker than any previous entry. This horror flick finds the colony ship Covenant headed for the distant world of Origae-6. The vessel is a crowded one, loaded with over 1,000 human embryos and 2,000 colonists in cryosleep. They hope to wake up in a new world full of new possibilities, but these sleeping souls have no idea the crew has made an ill-fated detour to a nearby planet, one that's home to killer aliens and a psychopathic android named David (Michael Fassbender).

We first met David in Prometheus, and his (admittedly justified) disdain for humans has only grown since the first film. Now, he views people simply as subjects for his experiments… experiments to create a new extraterrestrial life form. In fact, he'd like to run a few tests on Covenant officer Daniels (Katherine Waterson), but she escapes David's grasp with the help of Walter (Fassbender again), an android who's the same model as David, only way better when it comes to his people skills.

After Walter defeats David (offscreen, mind you), he returns to the Covenant with Daniels and puts her into cryosleep for their long journey ahead. But moments before going under, Walter's kindly smile morphs into a sadistic smirk, and Daniels realizes this isn't her robo-boddy… it's David. That's when the panic sets in — but there's nothing she can do as David puts her to bed. With Daniels out of the way, David coughs up two alien embryos, turns on Wagner's "Entry of the Gods into Valhalla," and then strolls through the massive cryochamber, admiring the pods and pods full of sleeping colonists.

This mad scientist is going to be busy for a long time.

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Mother! (2017)

Directed by Darren Aronofsky, mother! is one part Biblical allegory, one part environmental metaphor, and totally disturbing from beginning to end. Jennifer Lawrence stars as the titular "Mother," wife of a beloved poet known simply as "Him" (Javier Bardem). However, their little world is threatened by the arrival of a creepy couple, murderous brothers, and a mob of angry, violent people, all hellbent on destroying Mother's house.

Once you realize that Mother represents Mother Earth and Him is God, things start clicking into place. The film rehashes the story of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Noah's flood. When Mother's newborn baby is murdered by the masses, that's symbolic of Christ's crucifixion. And when it comes to communion, well, we see that in all its bloody horror. All the people Him has welcomed into his home begin destroying everything in sight — desecrating the planet Earth, if you will. And Mother can only take so much abuse for so long.

After the death of her baby, Mother snaps and fights back by setting the house on fire. The house is burned to ash, the people are purged away by flames, but since Him is an immortal being, he survives without a single burn. The all-powerful poet (creator of words and worlds) picks up Mother's charred body and removes a crystal from her chest, taking the last of her love so he can rebuild his home, create a new wife, and start over again. And that's how this horror show ends, with the cycle beginning anew, all because Him craves praise and affection for his literary creations.

Of course, almost nobody got this far in the film, as most people checked out after that baby buffet.

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Annihilation (2018)

For all its sci-fi trappings, Annihilation is very much a horror movie. It's got hideous mutants (that freaky skull bear), extreme body horror (snake intestines), and uber-creepy plant people. But perhaps the most terrifying (and claustrophobic) scene comes when Natalie Portman encounters a mysterious being that mirrors her every move.

Annihilation finds Portman playing Lena, a soldier-turned-scientist who's haunted by guilt and regret. Her military husband, Kane (Oscar Isaac), has disappeared after venturing into the Shimmer — an electromagnetic field spreading across the southern U.S. Lena blames herself for Kane's disappearance, as her bad choices might've driven her husband to a suicide mission. But a year after vanishing, Kane reappears — confused, missing memories, and incredibly sick.

Wanting to know what happened to Kane, Lena joins a scientific team heading into the Shimmer, which refracts and combines everything from memories to DNA. After witnessing some grisly sights, she winds up at a lighthouse where she meets a metallic humanoid, a creature that copies her movements and steals her likeness. A horrified Lena tries to escape, but the humanoid won't let her leave. It even pins her against the door, suffocating Lena with the weight of its body. Basically, Lena is fighting herself, her own self-destructive tendencies, and with the help of a grenade, she escapes from the lighthouse.

And this right here is where things get ambiguous. Did the real Lena escape, or is this her double? When she hugs her husband — who we know is a doppelgänger—both their eyes dance and change colors, just like the Shimmer. So is this the real Lena? Well, it really doesn't matter. The only thing that does is that Lena has changed. The woman who walked into the Shimmer has come out a completely different person. The Shimmer lives on, and the Lena we once knew is no more.

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Upgrade (2018)

A gory blend of sci-fi action and body horror, Upgrade is set in a near future where most humans are totally cool with having technological implants. The one exception is Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green), an old-fashioned mechanic — but after a gang of thugs kill his wife and leave him paralyzed, Grey finds himself totally reliant on technology. Thanks to an oddly benevolent billionaire, Grey has been implanted with an AI named STEM, who's kind of like HAL 9000 meets Bruce Lee.

STEM connects Grey's brain to his body, allowing him to move around for the first time in months. He's also oddly keen on helping Grey find his wife's killers. Together, the two stalk the streets, dishing out grisly deaths to the crooks who ruined Grey's life. But as Grey becomes more and more focused on revenge, he loses sight of his real enemy: the AI inside his head. At the end of the film, Grey discovers STEM has been pulling the strings all along. The AI desperately wanted to be human and thought Grey, a guy without any other implants, was the perfect host, so he turned the mechanic into a widowed quadriplegic. And once he got inside Grey's brain, he murdered anyone who knew of his existence, from the killers to his creator. That way, nobody could stop him from disappearing into the world.

STEM's coup de grace comes when he attempts to murder an innocent detective. Holding tight to his last shreds of humanity, Grey fights back, desperately trying to save the cop's life. And in that struggle, Grey's mind finally breaks. His brain goes limp, and STEM locks him away in a dream world, a paradise where his wife is still alive. In some ways, it's a happy ending for Grey, but as he "reunites" with his wife, STEM takes control of Grey's body and sets out to live the life of a human, with Grey's consciousness imprisoned forever.

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Hereditary (2018)

Written and directed by Ari Aster, Hereditary is a truly messed-up film with an incredibly deranged ending. Basically, the movie follows a doomed family that's being manipulated into bringing a demon named Paimon into the world. Paimon is one of the eight kings of hell, and for last few years, he's been possessing a strange little girl named Charlie (Milly Shapiro). But sexist Paimon would prefer to possess a male, so his followers plot to transfer the spirit into Charlie's older brother, Peter (Alex Wolff).

Of course, that involves a rather complicated ritual where you have to decapitate Charlie, host a disturbing seance, and set Gabriel Byrne on fire. And after Peter's mom Annie (Toni Collette) is demonically possessed, the cult of Paimon can finally put their king into Peter's poor body. In the last few minutes of this terrifying film, Peter is chased around the house by his now-evil mom, who's become part Jack Torrance and part Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Creepier still, everywhere Alex runs, he keeps bumping into naked, aging cult members. And to cap everything off, Alex watches in horror as his mom saws her own head off with a wire.

This kid is having a rough night.

It's all too much for Peter, who throws himself out a window and ends up getting controlled by Paimon anyway. In the film's final scene, a possessed Peter is surrounded by worshipful cult members, the beheaded corpses of his mom and grandmom, and a freaky shrine that prominently features Charlie's decapitated head. In other words, the ending of Hereditary is completely bonkers, and after it's done, you'll never step foot in a treehouse again.

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Mandy (2018)

Mandy is a bloodsoaked acid trip of a movie that perfectly blends a whole host of genres, from romance and fantasy to angry revenge thriller. But in its heavy metal heart, Mandy is a horror film, complete with monstrous bikers from Hellraiser and a murderous cult from Spahn Ranch. The film finds Nicolas Cage as Red Miller, a lumberjack who wants revenge for his murdered wife, Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). And that means doing battle with demons and getting into chainsaw fights with psycho hippies.

From the moment his wife is immolated (the most horrific scene in the movie), Red begins to lose his mind. It doesn't help any when he samples some of the world's trippiest LSD, which plunges him deep into the cosmic darkness. His eyes become fireballs of rage, his face is absolutely caked with gore, and in the film's final minutes, he hunts down the members of the hippie cult and puts his freshly-forged axe to good use.

When he finally confronts the insecure cult leader, Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache), he crushes the man's skull with his hands before setting Sand's church on fire. As the building burns down, Red climbs into a car and drives away from the destruction, and for a moment, everything is peaceful. The blood is gone from his face, and he sees the spirit of Mandy riding shotgun. He flashes back to the moment they first met — both at a club, wearing identical T-shirts — but then reality comes crashing back hard.

Red is still soaked with gore and grinning like a madman. And as he drives off to nowhere, we see two eerie planets hanging over the horizon. Does Mandy take place in another universe? Has Red lost himself to grief and LSD, and are we seeing his hallucinations? Can he see beyond a veil that few others can pass? It's a truly freaky moment, and one that's bound to stir up debate between horror fans for years to come.