This past weekend the Queen and I finally got around to watching Frank Darabont’s adaptation of the Stephen King novella The Mist. It was another one of those horror flicks that I wound up missing when it first hit theatres about a year or so ago. Luckily, that’s what DVD is for. In this instance, I watched was the black and white film that Darabont prepared specifically for DVD and which he refers to as is preferred version of the film. The Mist stars Thomas Jane as a father in a town that’s been covered in a suspicious mist that contains a wide assortment of evil creatures. We watch Jane and his fellow townspeople as they convene in a supermarket for safety and try and figure out what’s going on “out there”.
As far as I’m concerned, Frank Darabont is 3 for 3 in his big screen King adaptations (he previously directed The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile). The performances from Jane, Andre Braugher, and Marcia Gay Harden are stellar, the film oozes creepiness, and the ending…well, the ending is spectacular. It’s just the sort of conclusion I want from my horror flicks. Dark, desolate, and happy ending free. On that note, I thought I would compile, in no particular order, my 4 favourite horror endings of the past 5 years. The one thing all the films share is a complete lack of hope at their conclusions. I’m not sure why I find that so appealing; I’ll let you figure that out for yourself. Be warned – considering the topic, there will spoilers aplenty and endings will be ruined.
1) The Mist (2007)
Frank Darabont actually made the decision to change the original ending of Stephen King’s novella, which concludes on a more optimistic note. In the film version, with hordes of creatures walking the earth, it seem that all hope is futile for Thomas Jane’s character David Drayton, and his four fellow survivor’s, including his young son. The decision is made that they will end their lives, but there’s one problem. There are five survivors, but only four bullets left in their gun. Drayton promises he’ll figure something out, and proceeds to shoot his companions, including his son. A sobbing Drayton waits for the creatures to take him, but when he turns to confront a noise coming from behind him. From out of the mist appears army tanks and trucks carrying a host of survivors. The mist begins to thin. Drayton collapses to his knees, screaming for the actions he’s committed. It’s an amazingly bleak ending to a great film.
2) Diary Of The Dead (2008)
My favourite of George Romero’s zombie flicks, Diary Of The Dead takes us back to the beginning of the undead uprising. A group of university film students capture the events on a video camera and post their findings to the ‘Net. The final moments find the survivors being overrun in the palatial home of one of their newly undead friends. Three of them lock themselves into a panic room and watch the video screens full of zombies roaming the house. There is no escape. An ending totally lacking in any sense of optimism, the way a real horror film should end.
3) Dawn Of The Dead (2004)
Zack Snyder’s stylish remake of George Romero’s classic 1978 flick doesn’t share much with the original, and may have been done a disservice by sharing the name. That being said, it’s one of the best horror films in years and contains a classic final moment. I’m talking about what happens once the end credits start rolling. The few survivors of the film have managed to commandeer a boat, which runs out of gas as they near a dock on what looks to be a deserted island. Wrong. The final shots find the group attacked by a swarm of zombies. Their fate is left to our imagination, but come on. We all know what happens. Classic.
4) Terminator 3: Rise Of the Machines (2003)
The final film on my list may not technically a horror flick, but the bleak and hopeless ending of the third Terminator film has stuck in my brain long after the rest of the film has seeped into the ether. While T3 may not be as groundbreaking as the first two in the franchise, it does take the series to a level of darkness not previously seen. After once again avoiding death by a robot sent from the future, John Connor and his would-be wife Kate find themselves in a fallout shelter as the Skynet program begins launching nuclear missiles. The world is in chaos. The human race is about to be annihilated. The lesson: simply put, there was no way Judgement Day could be avoided.
Those are my four picks. How about yours?