From twist endings to quick exits, ambiguous conclusions to sequel setups, there’s more than one way to wrap up a horror movie. For this list, however, we’re interested only in those flicks that don’t neatly tie up all their frayed and bloodied ends. We want the endings that open the door to even more fear. We won’t spoil the endings for you by stating exactly what happens, but suffice it to say that when you sit down for one of these horror movies, you’ll know you’re in for a shock just before the credits roll. Here are nine of the scariest horror movie endings.
1. Paranormal Activity
Say what you will about this franchise now: it was scary as all get out when the first installment was released back in 2007. About a girl-next-door and the demon who won’t let her go, Paranormal Activity is a modern chiller with a powerful finale that only heightens the fear once the credits roll. This one has an ending you can feel in your toes.
2. The Descent
If Neil Marshall never does anything worthy of top-shelf horror again, at least we’ll have this spelunking gem, which blends an adventure story with psychological and creature-feature horror. Do yourself a favor and watch the director’s-cut ending. It’s way freakier to the diluted conclusion that hit the silver screen back in 2005.
Inspired by Eli Roth’s , Pascal Laugier’s 2007 merciless New French Extreme film is highly controversial. Some see it as exploitative overkill, with enough violence to send Quentin Tarantino into shock: others declare it a brave, transcendent depiction of pain, suffering, and the human condition. We see it as a brutal, thought-provoking experience that goes out with a bang.
4. The Shining
Anytime we discuss terrifying cinema, we have to include Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece. For just shy of three hours, the late great director toys with our senses, crafting a terrifying tale about a Colorado family and the malevolent effects of cabin fever. If that final shocking image doesn’t send a chill down your spine, you should check yourself for frostbite.
Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve is one of the best filmmakers working today. If you haven’t treated yourself to his entire theatrical resume, get on it. A deft storyteller, he’s attracted to the dark side of cinema, and he knows how to thoroughly freak out moviegoers without even a drop of blood. Enemy is perhaps the best example of this. Not necessarily horror–more psychological thriller–Enemy is a head-scratcher that culminates in a creepy final shot that is absolutely heart-stopping.
When it comes to horror movies, everyone wants the final girl–as she’s called in the industry–to survive. And we’re not saying Angela Vidal does or doesn’t survive in the 2007 found footage flick REC, we’re just saying we want her to. The film follows a reporter and her cameraman as they venture into a building that’s housing something seriously sinister, then culminates in bone-chilling final sequence.
7. The Blair Witch Project
Sometimes, it’s what you can’t see that scares you most. Such is the case with Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick’s 1999 film, The Blair Witch Project. Even today we get chills when Heather and her crew emerge from their tents surrounded by spooky stick figures. Plus, the film ends with some of the freakiest few minutes to ever grace a film reel.
8. Sleepaway Camp
9. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Tobe Hooper does not care about your delicate sensibilities, which is probably why he keeps the unrelenting tension and chainsaw-wielding terror cresting right up to the final credits of this classic. Here, you’re left with your nerves shot, and the horrific whir of Leatherface’s iconic chainsaw still buzzing in your head.
Featured Still from "REC" via Castelao Producciones