Top 10 Best Horror Movie Endings of ALL TIME!

Written by Sean Newman

Scary, shocking, and memorable, the greatest endings to your favourite classic and modern horror films! WatchMojo presents the Top 10 most amazing endings to horror movies ever! But what will take the top spot on our list? Carrie, The Sixth Sense, or Psycho?

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Every great horror movie must be wrapped up with a truly great finale. Welcome to and today, we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Best Horror Movie Endings.

For this list, we’re not specifically looking at final big screen scenes that scared the bejesus out of us, as we’ve already got a video for that. Instead, we’re focusing in on iconic horror movie endings that shocked us, defined the horror genre, or left us talking about it for days after the fact. As you may have guessed, a big spoiler alert is in order. Now let’s turn down the lights, grab some popcorn, and explore horror mastery.

#10: “[•REC]” (2007)

This 2007 Spanish horror film is criminally underrated, doing more for both the zombie genre and the found footage genre than most movies that came before and after it. Angela and Pablo find themselves locked in an apartment with strange and violent tenants slowly picking off residences one by one. While the thrills and carnage are exhilarating throughout, it’s the final 15 minutes that leaves viewers breathless and on the edge of their seats. Ending in a dark room in the apartment with patient zero lurking in the shadows, shaky cam and darkness are used superbly to make this ending truly satisfying while returning zombie films to their horrifying glory.

#9: “The Thing” (1982)

“The Thing” surely stands out as one of the greatest horror movies of all time, particularly with regards to body horror effects that stand the test of time over three decades later. A group of researchers at an Antarctica research station find a mysterious specimen that takes various human forms to pick off characters one by one. The true mastery lies in the paranoia that any person could be The Thing in disguise, with mounting suspicion up until the film’s explosive climax. Two survivors emerge, and the ambiance oozes distrust while the score subtly racks tension levels up to 11. Equal parts satisfying and maddening, few horror films leave viewers discussing the outcome quite like this.

#8: “Saw” (2004)

The “Saw” franchise may have zeroed in on its torture porn aspect in later installments, but the first movie managed to produce a gripping storyline that left viewers’ jaws on the floor without the help of Jigsaw’s contraptions. Two men find themselves chained up in a rundown bathroom and a dead corpse between them sparks the first of many questions they attempt to answer before it’s too late. The final sequence reveals mystery after mystery in rapid succession, until it’s revealed the alleged corpse was actually the Jigsaw Killer all along. As Jigsaw departs, epic music and expressions of despair are blasted upon the viewer until we are effectively left with Adam in total darkness.

#7: “The Blair Witch Project” (1999)

While “REC” may have breathed fresh air into the found footage genre, this film brought it to life - all for the price of $60 000. It follows three fictional students who set out to make a documentary on the Blair Witch that allegedly haunts the woods of Maryland. Once the audience was introduced to the abandoned house at the film’s climax, heart rates collectively spiked as the unspeakable happens, largely off screen. The ending earns its spot due to visceral, realistic sensations that feel like a snuff film. As “The Godfather” of found-footage films, it has a climax that would make Michael and Don Vito Corleone crap their pants in fear.

#6: “The Mist” (2007)

Among all the criteria checked off for memorable movie endings today, this one takes the cake for dramatic irony. Taking place largely in a local grocery store, David and his young son take refuge in the shop after a mysterious mist envelopes the area. The mist is followed by terrifying, demonic creatures and plenty of grisly deaths. The survivors eventually come face-to-face with their demise, and David mercifully shoots everyone, including his son with the remaining bullets – though he doesn’t have one for himself. As he prepares to meet his maker, the U.S. Army comes to the rescue and David realizes he has killed his son just minutes before safety. It’s gut-wrenching and tragic to the nth degree, making us wish the filmmakers could’ve just given us a happy ending!

#5: “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)

This film succeeds by playing with viewer’s expectations, particularly during its final sequence. “A Nightmare on Elm Street” introduced the world to Freddy Krueger, a disfigured monster who seeks vengeance for his death by murdering victims in their dreams. Nancy, the strong female lead, vanquishes Freddy once and for all, resulting in a dreamlike, happy ending… that is, until the striped hood of a convertible car comes down and dread fills every inch of the screen. Viewers are thrown from relieved and content to anxious and terrified in a matter of seconds. Finally, the inevitable takes place in a fashion that would make the most stoic among us jump out of our pants.

#4: “Sleepaway Camp” (1983)

An ending that’s memorable for both its graphic nature, and shocking revelation, “Sleepaway Camp” tells the story of a traumatized young adult named Angela who survived an accident when she was younger that left several loved ones dead. She is forced to join a summer camp to help with her introversion, and various tormentors wind up dead, suggesting a secret protector watching over Angela. The final reveal is a naked Angela holding her suitor, Paul’s severed head. Oh, and Angela has a penis; she was a man in disguise all along. Sensory overload in the most wickedly compelling fashion earns this a spot on our list with a final shot that’s securely placed in nightmare banks for years to come.

#3: “The Sixth Sense” (1999)

Is it the most famous movie twist of all time? It’s certainly up there. Cole Sear is a troubled child who claims to see dead people. A psychologist by the name of Dr. Malcolm Crowe sets out to help Cole and a compelling narrative and chilling encounters take place. Upon second viewing, the clues were everywhere; Dr. Malcolm was dead the entire time. Its obviousness makes the reveal that much more astounding, and placed young M. Night Shyamalan at the epicenter of Hollywood nearly overnight. “The Sixth Sense” proves that gore and constant thrills aren’t required for a truly great horror movie; just attention to detail, rounded characters, and a quality ending that’s still being discussed decades later.

#2: “Carrie” (1976)

The second Stephen King adaptation on our list centers on Carrie White, a high school outcast who is bullied to no end by her peers. Tricked into forging a friendship with popular classmates, she falls victim to a cruel prank at prom and burns the whole school down with psychic powers, which we forgot to mention until just now. A murder/suicide/accident leaves Carrie six feet under and another dreamlike sequence ensues. It’s so obvious that this is buildup to one final jump scare, but the scene is so technically masterful it takes everyone by utter surprise. As one of the greatest jump scares in movie history, it also serves as the perfect ending to an unsettling tale.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“The Wicker Man” (1973)

“The Cabin in the Woods” (2012)

“Friday the 13th”(1980)

#1: “Psycho” (1960)

We love our jump scares, but genuine horror transcends cheap thrills and truly gets under your skin long after the end credits. One of Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest flicks brought a serial killer to the silver screen with violence, twists, and narrative choices that had never been seen before. Ending with Norman Bates in police custody, the voice of his mom plays in his head, showing how truly psychotic and deranged Norman is. His stare, her voice, the fly; they all tap into a dark corner of our human psyche we wish to avoid at all costs. “Psycho” is a rare film that will still be relevant 100 years from its release. The unnerving ending wins the top stop for this and much more.

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