Horror fans hope that when Halloween Ends draws to a close, Laurie Strode has defeated Michael Myers and is stronger for it. It’s always fulfilling when the protagonist is able to win the battle with a film’s major villain as this feels like the natural way for the story to wrap up.
Sometimes, though, the main character in a scary movie isn’t victorious after all, and the killer or creature is the one who celebrates before the end credits roll. Redditors are discussing the horror films where the evil is stronger than the person who audiences are rooting for.
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Redditor getthefunk_down mentioned both Sinister and Hereditary as movies where the protagonist loses, writing “Two of the scariest horror movies of all time in my opinion. It’s always more scary when there’s no happy ending.”
Hereditary features a terrifying movie cult as King Paimon ends up being a horrifying part of the Graham family’s history. As Annie becomes possessed and gets more and more affected, there’s no hope left for her. The second half of the film is a sad ride toward destruction and chaos. It feels like the family has been in pain for years and this is the only natural conclusion.
Joy Ride (2001)
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When horror film characters go on a road trip and come across a villain, audiences immediately cheer them on and hope that they can celebrate their victory. Unfortunately, that’s not what happens in Joy Ride. Redditor Gears244 recommended it as a “Classic horror movie for me if you haven’t seen it” and shared that the film includes protagonists who lose.
The villain, Rusty Nail, chases the three main characters and they aren’t able to beat him at his terrible game, which makes for an upsetting and emotional ending. While the main characters prove their intelligence throughout the story, and they figure out the terror pretty quickly, it never feels like they are ultimately smarter than Rusty Nail.
Eden Lake (2008)
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When Jenny Greengrass and Steve Taylor travel to a lake in England in Eden Lake, they want a nice vacation, but instead, some adolescents intrude on their calming atmosphere. Redditor gageholland noted that the film has two main characters who end up losing, writing, “The end is so sad.”
Jenny and Steve do their best to be strong and fight back, but the tragic conclusion feels inevitable from the start. The movie might even be scarier thanks to the fact that audiences can guess what’s going to happen at the beginning. It’s tragic to see a couple trying to enjoy taking a break together and ending up in a violent situation.
Funny Games (1997/2007)
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Redditor CaptainSpaulding1000 said that “Funny Games” also includes characters who are terrorized and who aren’t able to win. While some horror remakes are better than the original, both the 1997 and 2007 films have similar characters, tones, and dreadful conclusions.
From the start, audiences are hopeful that the family will find a way to escape. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be possible as the intruders, Paul and Peter, are strong and cruel.
Jeeper’s Creepers (2001)
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Jeeper’s Creepers features two siblings, Darry and Trish, who differ when it comes to their behavior after seeing a strange man in a coat dump a body down a pipe. While Darry wants to investigate and assist in any way that he can, Trish wonders if that’s a terrible and dangerous thought.
Redditor Aboogeywoogey2 posted that after watching the movie as a child, they were upset “because the good guys didnt win.” The ending is gross and haunting as The Creeper captures Darry, and since there were clues about this, it was clear that this was the sad plan all along.
Drag Me To Hell (2009)
Stream on Peacock
Redditor rememberforgotten suggested that Drag Me To Hell is an example of a horror film where the main character doesn’t win in the end. The fan described it as a “Sorta horror sorta comedy…”
Christine Brown doesn’t enjoy her job as a loan officer and things get more dreadful and scary than just boring when she asks an elderly woman, Sylvia Ganush, to please pay back the money that she owes. Instead, a curse is put on Christine. The end is emotional as Christine, through no fault of her own, ends up being too weak to win against it.
The Cabin In The Woods (2012)
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The Cabin in the Woods has horrifying monsters, and as audiences realize that a group of college students are part of a terrible simulation that leads to the end of the world, there is truly no coming back from that. Even when Marty Mikalski shows intelligence and perception, he isn’t able to get out. The design of this game is clever and impressive.
The Mist (2007)
Stream on Netflix
One Redditor posted that “The Mist” features a main character who realizes that there was nothing that they could do when it comes to the situation that they’re facing. The Mist is known for having an ending that feels truly painful, as David Drayton makes a hard choice that he thinks is the only way that he can get out alive.
The Mist is a good example of a scary story where nature is ruthless and more powerful than anyone could have imagined. The characters have no idea why there is this strange fog in their Maine town and there isn’t much that they can do about it, which drives home the feeling of dread.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
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The Blair Witch Project has a perfect final scene as Mike, Josh and Heather succumb to the evil in the woods that they so happily spent time in earlier in the film. Whether audiences believe in ghosts or not, it’s hard not to get caught up in the terror of this story and decide that camping is out of the question.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
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Rosemary’s Baby is a classic for several reasons, including the setting of the beautiful but eerie New York City apartment building. One Redditor mentioned the movie as an example of a protagonist not being able to win.
Throughout the story, Rosemary Woodhouse functions as an effective final girl who seems like she can get out alive. She knows that something strange is happening during her pregnancy and wants to learn what’s really going on. But after the character has her baby, she realizes that the devil is involved, a stunning and chilling way to end the movie.