Top 10 Confusing Horror Movies Endings Explained

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Top 10 Confusing Horror Movies Endings Explained

VOICE OVER: Kirsten Ria Squibb WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
These head-scratching horror movie endings will leave you perplexed. For this list, we'll be looking at some confusing, dense, or ambiguous horror movie endings and trying our best to explain them. Our countdown includes “The Witch”, "Us", "The Thing", and more!
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Top 10 Confusing Horror Movie Endings Explained


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Confusing Horror Movie Endings Explained.

For this list, we’ll be looking at some confusing, dense, or ambiguous horror movie endings and trying our best to explain them. “Confusing” doesn’t mean at all bad - obviously, a lot of these are classics - just that they’re definite thinkers. Oh, and spoilers, obviously.

What are your interpretations of these endings? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: “The Witch” (2015)

Robert Eggers’s modern masterpiece is not a happy movie. By the end, Thomasin’s family is either missing or dead, she speaks to a mysterious man, and then ascends into the sky. But what in the heck is going on there? The answer lies in the goat. As suspected, Black Phillip is indeed Satan. With nowhere to go and her God having abandoned her, Thomasin decides to make a deal with the Devil. In his own terrifying words, Thomasin wishes to “live deliciously.” After making the pact, Thomasin joins a Coven in the woods and joyfully embraces her new status as a witch. Individual viewers can take from this what they will, but either way, it’s not a happy ending.


#9: “Hereditary” (2018)

This is a very tough movie to nail down, and its ending is even tougher. “Hereditary” is centered around a demon named Paimon. Annie’s mother Ellen was part of a coven that’s trying to provide Paimon with a male, corporeal body. Paimon makes his way through various family members before possessing Annie, and this is what causes her to go after her son Peter. Once Annie takes her own life, Paimon’s spirit finally transfers itself into Peter’s body, and he’s joyfully crowned by the coven. It’s unclear what will happen after this, but it probably won’t be good.


#8: “The Babadook” (2014)

Some movies are basically just visual metaphors that aren’t meant to be taken literally. That seems to be the case with “The Babadook.” The titular monster is an obvious stand-in for things like depression, grief, and mental illness. Amelia battles with the Babadook throughout the movie before banishing it to the basement. She continues to feed the Babadook, and it threatens to overtake her from time to time. But she manages to stay calm and the monster remains subdued. The Babadook living in Amelia’s basement is a metaphor for her mental health. Amelia has imprisoned the Babadook, and while she still acknowledges its existence, she now has the confidence and fortitude to live with it.

#7: “Us” (2019)

Jordan Peele is the new master of socially conscious horror, and “Us” is another solid entry in his filmography. We learn that clones called the Tethered live underground and were created by the government to control their surface counterparts like puppets. We also learn that matriarch Adelaide is actually the original Tethered and Red is the real Adelaide, as they swapped places in the prologue set decades earlier. The bleak ending suggests that the Tethered have taken over America and have killed - or will kill - all their human counterparts. It’s a dour ending for humanity, as everyone seems doomed. Of course, it’s also dripping with metaphor, with themes steeped in uprisings, revolutions, and social inequalities. Those are completely up to personal interpretation.

#6: “The Lighthouse” (2019)

Robert Eggers loves his dour endings, that’s for sure. As is made quite obvious throughout the movie, the titular lighthouse isn’t meant to be taken literally. The answers to this movie lay in its influences - primarily, the story of Prometheus. Wake even mentions Winslow suffering a “Promethean fate” as he’s buried alive, and this is indeed what he gets. Winslow is looking for the mythical and unknowable “answers,” and he believes that those answers are found in the lighthouse. He goes mad with greed and kills its protector before ascending the lighthouse and attempting to attain the knowledge that it harbors. However, humans were not meant to indulge in this knowledge, and like Prometheus, Winslow is rejected and punished for his attempt.

#5: “The Blair Witch Project” (1999)

Many people were left disappointed with this movie’s ambiguous ending. So what was it all about? The answer is found in nondescript interviews given at the beginning of the movie. Locals tell the crew of Rustin Parr, an old murderer who killed his victims in pairs, making one victim stand in the corner while he dispatched the other. This is exactly what happens with Mike and Heather - Mike is made to stand in the corner, Heather is seemingly butchered, and then Mike is presumably killed soon after. Unfortunately, that’s where the answer ends. Was Parr still alive? Was the Blair Witch mimicking his M.O.? The 2016 sequel seemingly confirms the existence of a witch, but not much else.

#4: “American Psycho” (2000)

Patrick Bateman is one of the most famous fictional serial killers and is played to perfection by Christian Bale. Unfortunately, nothing about his character is really answered or made clear. We don’t know if he’s actually a serial killer or just a repressed sociopath who harbors extremely violent thoughts. The truth is left intentionally ambiguous, and it’s completely up to the individual viewer to make up their own conclusions. But the true body count doesn’t really matter. “American Psycho” is a satire, first and foremost. And it has its pulse right on late ‘80s America. Everyone is so self-absorbed and obsessed with surface-level ideals that they don’t notice the monster hiding beneath the surface.

#3: “The Thing” (1982)

The ending of “The Thing” continues to be debated decades after its release. But, like “American Psycho,” the specifics don’t really matter. All we know is that Childs and MacReady still don’t trust each other and will likely die together in the cold. The movie is all about distrust and paranoia, and the ending is just a small continuation of that theme. Like most great movies, “The Thing” reflects the time in which it was made. Released at the height of Cold War tensions, “The Thing” criticizes the Second Red Scare. This saw America deeply paranoid that it was being invaded and assimilated by communists. “The Thing” argues that without trust, society falls apart and will only cause its own destruction.


#2: “Mother!” (2017)

A very disturbing movie from Darren Aronofsky, “Mother!” serves mainly as a biblical allegory. Therein lies the answer to its weird and ambiguous ending. The “Mother” is Mother Earth, and humanity nearly beats her to death - a likely metaphor for climate change. However, Mother Earth fights back and destroys the house, metaphorically killing all of humanity. “Him” is God, and at the end of the movie, he asks the dying Mother Earth for another try. Mother agrees, the ruined house is made new again, and the cycle repeats. It seems that Aronofsky has a pessimistic view of both God and human nature, arguing that God will always create flawed humans who are always destined to destroy their homes.


#1: “The Shining” (1980)

Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece contains one of the most confounding endings in the genre’s history. Danny and Wendy make their escape, and Jack freezes to death. It seems pretty cut and dry, but then Kubrick throws one last twist at us and shows a picture from 1921. Front and center is none other than Jack. Countless theories have been thrown around, like Jack having been assimilated into the metaphysical hotel. But Kubrick has actually addressed the ambiguous ending, stating that 1980 Jack was meant to be a reincarnation of 1921 Jack. This proves what Grady said earlier about Jack “always” being the caretaker. Now, what this actually means for Jack and the hotel is up to interpretation. Kubrick was not one for giving straightforward answers!
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