In film, the ending isn’t always a happy one. Some filmmakers know how to massacre the emotions of their audience with the most miserable and life sucking endings. Most people are inclined towards wanting happy endings and that is of course with good reason. Why would anyone want to watch a movie that leaves them feeling only sadness at its end? However gloomy endings do sometimes provide a kind of sad comfort; they generate feelings of association with the viewer’s everyday experiences, making these films so much more engrossingly realistic and that much more gripping. Here we look at the five films that certainly fit the part…

[This article contains some spoilers]

5. Se7en (1995)

At the climatic end of David Fincher’s intense thriller, serial killer Kevin Spacey lures the hot-headed detective Brad Pitt along with the highly intelligent Morgan Freeman out to a desolate field so that he could fulfill his murderous mission involving the seven deadly sins. At the appearance of a mysterious package Freeman goes to investigate, leaving Pitt and Spacey alone. Spacey begins expressing the deep jealousy that he has for Pitt’s life claiming that he symbolises the sin ‘Envy’, he then reveals that the package contains the head of his wife which he took as a souvenir. Freeman is powerless in containing Pitt as he unloads the barrel of his gun into Spacey, killing him and becoming the embodiment of the last sin – ‘Wrath’.

 4. A.I Artificial Intelligence (2001)

After the mother of robot boy Haley Joel Osment cruelly deserts him in what could be seen as one of the utmost demoralising moments in film, the broken-hearted android departs on a journey to change himself into a real human boy so that his mother would reciprocate his love. Instead he ends up freezing at the bottom of a river staring longingly at the Blue Fairy he believed would grant his wish. After 2000 years he is rescued by highly intelligent evolved androids that use advanced science and magic to finally provide him with the mother that he’s always wanted – for a single day. At the conclusion of the one happy day that the young protagonist has ever had, his mother is stolen away from him once more before he deactivates forever.

3. Requiem for a Dream (2000)

This harrowing journey into madness and loss never quite provides its audience with a light-hearted moment, ever. Throughout the entire film, we are constantly pummeled by the effect that a combination of imperfect dreams fueled by drug addiction has on four damaged individuals. Darren Aronofsky delivers an ending that is impossible to forget; everyone is lost in misery. Sarah is deserted in a mental institution with which she will never come out of, Harry is left armless and without help due to his chronic heroine abuse, his friend Tyrone is left hopelessly alone in a merciless prison and finally Marion is left to prostitute herself to feed her addiction. Requiem for a Dream is a film that will eternally haunt the dreams of anyone who watches it.

2. Nineteen-Eighty Four (1984)

After being discovered by a hidden telescreen in the supposed secret room, rebels Winston Smith and Julia become prisoners of the Ministry of Love which through torture and brainwashing transforms them into model citizens of Oceania. At the end, Winston Smith is faced with his worst fear – a cage full of starved rats in Room 101. He disavows Julia, betraying their love entirely and declaring his everlasting love for Big Brother.

1. The Mist (2007)

Arguably one of the most soul-sucking endings in modern cinema, this 2007 adaptation of Stephen King’s novel documents the terrifying experience of a group of locals trapped in a supermarket who are forced to fend off a multitude of deadly monsters that dwell within the malevolent fog that envelops their town. At the end Thomas Jane, his son and three other survivors descend into the mist with the hope of escaping only to run out of fuel in the middle of the monster-covered land. With the four remaining bullets, Jane saves his son and friends the agonising death that awaits them outside and descends into the mist accepting his fate only to discover that the Military have arrived to destroy the monsters. If only he’d have waited five more minutes…

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  1. Jack Bottomley

    Number 1 is absolutely spot on! What a film The Mist is.