A film’s final sequence tells us a great deal about the movie as a whole. Many people would argue that the final scene in a film is the most important of all. We won’t go that far, but it certainly shows us where the filmmakers want everything to finish up. The final imparting image or spoken line is what the audience is left with. It’s at this moment that interpretation begins, so it’s incredibly important in how the film is received and understood. In many cases, the final scene is a microcosm of the entire film. Sometimes the final scene shows us the point to which a character has developed or grown from the beginning. In today’s sequel-happy world, many endings introduce where the film might go next, though, as we’ll show, those endings can be sometimes unnecessary. In any case, one of the most popular type of endings is a spoken line. It allows the filmmakers to tell us rather than show us.
In horror and thriller films, the final lines tend to be something shocking. They’re often used as a scare tactic. It’s not always what’s said but how it’s said that scares us. We leave with those words still echoing in our heads. Sometimes, as is the case with the most effective of these lines, the voice or the words can stay with us for many many years. This list is made up of the creepiest of all those final lines, the lines that have stuck with viewers. We’ve gone through and picked out the scariest or most unsettling of the final lines spoken in a movie or by a character. Many of these lines have since become iconic in film history.
15. What’s In The Box?
David Fincher’s Se7en will go down as one of the more disturbing psychological thrillers made in 20th century. In the final scene, we have John Doe (Kevin Spacey) on his knees in handcuffs in the middle of nowhere with Mills (Brad Pitt) holding a gun to his head. While Somerset (Morgan Freeman) is off opening a package in the distance, Doe is rambling, telling Mills, “I visited your home this morning after you’d left. I tried to play husband. I tried to taste the life of a simple man. It didn’t work out, so I took a souvenir… her pretty head.” The delivery of this line coincides with Somerset opening the box and jumping back. With Mills yelling out, “What’s in the box?” Doe continues to speak, trying to incite Mills to take revenge, telling Mills to shoot him for what he’s done and “become wrath.” The scene ends with Somerset saying to Mills, “David…if you kill him…he will win.” Well, he won.
14. What About The Person We Show It To?
Poorly executed sequels can make us revise how we originally felt about a film. This is what happened for many with The Ring, which, at the time of its release, was really scary and well thought of for a horror movie. In what appears to set up a sequel, the ending of The Ring is effective without the need for anything to follow. After Rachel (Naomi Watts) realizes that she has survived the tape not because she found and essentially saved Samara but because she copied the tape and passed it on, she decides to her son Aidan (David Dorfman) do the same. As she helps Aidan copy the tape, he asks her the unsettling question, “What about the person we show it to? What happens to them?” The final shot of Rachel putting the tape in a video store isn’t necessarily to set up a sequel but simply to hammer home the conflict in the film. What would a parent do to save their child? For Rachel, some random stranger’s life is meaningless when all hope of protecting her family is lost.
13. One, Two, Freddy’s Coming For You
Over the years, the early horror films have become a bit campy for modern audiences, but it doesn’t take away from the effect that they had on viewers in the beginning. Special effects aside, after Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) dispatches Freddy in A Nightmare on Elm Street, the final scene shows that everything is back to normal. A keen pair of eyes might sense that something is off, but it appears that all Nancy’s dead friends are back and it was all a dream. As the friends prepare to drive off to school, however, the window in the car rolls up on its own and the camera pulls back, revealing a Freddy colored roof. It’s an evil Freddy demon car. Right before Nancy’s mother is pulled through the window, the little girls skipping begin to sing the creepiest song in film history, “one, two, Freddy’s coming for you. Three, four, better lock your door,” and the credits roll.
12. The Horror, The Horror
Like the novella, Heart of Darkness, on which it is based, Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now ends with Kurtz’s (Marlon Brando) dying line, “The horror, the horror.” The words and the meaning of the line have been a talking point for many years among critics, but how the words are spoken and the images that accompany them are chilling on their own. The most common interpretation of the words requires you to think back to an earlier conversation when Kurtz suggests one must use horror or else it become an enemy. This is his defense for his own questionable actions. As he lay dying, he recites “the horror” as a way of realizing and owning up to his horrific crimes. The repeating of the word “horror” might not be merely for effect either as he could be speaking to different types of horrors. Even though many have become disassociated with the impact of the line, it still remains one of the best and most chilling final words in a film.
11. This House Is Ours
One of the better ghost movies made in the last two decades, The Others by Alejandro Amenábar, has an excellent final sequence. The scene has the children and their mother (Nicole Kidman) drawn into the middle of a séance by the intruders as we, the audience, realize that they are the ghosts not the haunted. With the blind medium is asking questions and another man repeats the answers, she asks them why they remain in the house if they are dead. This scares the children and they begin to yell out in denial, “we’re not dead! We’re not dead!” The whole scene is both sad and eerie, as the kids come face to face with the reality of their situation. After the commotion, the scene shifts to Kidman comforting her children. As she rubs their heads, she says to them in a soft voice, “this house is ours” and the children begin to repeat that. The film ends with Kidman adding, “no one can make us leave this house.”
10. Why Did You Do That?
The ending of James Wan’s Insidious is a perfect conflict between happiness and anger. As everyone settles down after the conclusion of their adventure, Dalton (Ty Simpkin) scarfing down some food and Renai (Rose Byrne) and Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) watching him happily, Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Elise (Lin Shaye) are shown in the living room packing up. As Elise stands up, Josh happily hands back some photos, but Elise notices something is wrong and her facial expression changes quickly from happiness to dread. Josh asks her what’s wrong, but Elise shrugs it off. Suddenly, however, she takes his picture. A smiling Josh then yells, “Why did you do that?” This yell hits us hard and is off-putting because Josh is so mild mannered. His anger is in stark contrast to the happiness of the scene just moments before. Then as he strangles Elise, Josh continues to yell, “Why would you do that to me when you know how I feel about that?”
9. I’m Not Going To Let You Go
There are a few different endings to the under-appreciated horror film, 1408, but each end with the same line. In the film based on a Steven King short story, Mike Enslin (John Cusack) researches paranormal reports in so-called haunted hotel rooms and the like. In one room, room 1408 in The Dolphin, Enslin experiences what appear to be real ghostly encounters, much of it related to the death of his daughter. He survives and reconnects with his non-believing wife. At the very end of the film, we see Enslin and his wife are unpacking. His wife says that a lot of his stuff still smells like smoke from the room fire and he should go through it. He does, grabbing the tape recorder he used throughout the film and rewinds it. When he plays it, we hear his voice from earlier and then, suddenly, the voice of his daughter, saying, “I love you Daddy. Don’t you love me anymore?” After telling her he loves her too, we hear Enslin’s final line on the recorder as his wife listens in shock, “I’ve got you now, Katie. Oh my God. I’m not gonna let you go.” There’s something about ghost children that is really creepy.
8. What’s The Matter, Trevor? Scared Of something?
In Candyman, a Bloody Mary-type urban legend is explored about a supernatural killer who takes a life whenever he is summoned, done when someone calls out his name five times in a mirror. At the climax of the film, the protagonist, Helen (Virginia Madsen), is forced to give herself to the Candyman in exchange for the life of a baby. In the end, Helen is killed saving the people of the town from Candyman’s wrath. After her funeral, however, in the film’s final scene, Helen’s husband, Trevor, who is now with one of his students, calls out Helen’s name in grief… five times. Suddenly, Helen appears to him looking all dead and gross and asks, “What’s the matter, Trevor? Scared of something?”
7. They’re Here Already!
Both the 1956 version and the 1978 version of Invasion of The Bodysnatchers are great films and both have powerfully chilling endings. In the remake, there really isn’t a line spoken in the end, only a scream, so we won’t use that here, but the original has a great final line. After recognizing that the body snatchers have begun their takeover in full force, Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) runs through the busy streets by motorists yelling, “Listen to me – they’re not human! Everyone! They’re here already! YOU’RE NEXT!” The ending was a great representation of post-war anti-communist paranoia and one that would have been really poignant, but they changed it. They added in a preface and an epilogue that really took the punch out of the dread. Eventually, these additions were cut and the original ending was put back to the way it was.
6. I’m Having An Old Friend For Dinner
Like many of the older horror and thriller movies, much of the scare factor from The Silence of the Lambs has been depleted over time. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) has been so pervasive in our culture that many of his lines and even the delivery of his lines have become diluted. Still, the final line that he speaks in the film, as he talks on the phone to Clarice (Jody Foster), is one of the most chilling there is. As Lecter watches a bunch of people get off a small plane, he tells Clarice, “I do wish we could chat longer, but I’m having an old friend for dinner.” This double meaning hits home immediately, both funny and creepy. We then see the friend he’s talking about as Dr. Chilton (Anthony Heald) is shown on screen. The most effective thing about the ending is that we’re not even upset about this. We’re almost excited for Hannibal to get his revenge which makes us complicit in the crime.
5. I Hear Him Downstairs
With found footage being so engrained in modern film fans, the subtleties of its early days are lost to many, but The Blair Witch Project is still as creepy as ever. While the ending has had its detractors, there is something almost perfect about the ambiguity of it all. As Heather and Mike come across an old broken down house in the forest, they hear a faint call that seems to come from their missing friend, Josh. Mike and Heather race into the house and go upstairs, Mike calling out for his friend the entire time. When they reach the top, Josh’s voice can be heard again, this time from downstairs, and Mike reaches a feverish panic. The fear in Mike’s voice grows to incredible heights as he yells, “I hear him downstairs. Come on, I hear him downstairs!” With Mike racing down the stairs to the basement, Heather’s crying picks up and she screams for him to wait. We then see Mike go into the basement and his camera falls to the ground. The scene then switches to Heather and her screams for Mike as she follows into the basement seeing Mike standing alone facing the wall before her camera, too, drops.
4. It’s All For You
Every one of the entries on this list are the last lines spoken in the film, but for this one entry, we decided to look at the last lines spoken by a character because they’re blood-curdling. In one of the most unnerving scenes ever filmed, The Omen has children playing and laughing outside as the camera focuses in on Damien and his friends on a carousel. In the distance, we hear someone calling Damien, but her voice is drowned out by laughter. We see people turn and look up at the house and it’s then that the camera shows the nanny (Holly Palance) standing on the roof with a noose tightly wound around her neck. She calls out with a smile on her face, “Damien I love you. Look at me Damien. It’s all for you.” The smile never fades until she jumps, hanging herself in front of screaming children. It is horrifying.
3. Game Over
Say what you will about the Saw sequels and the torture p*rn genre as a whole, but the original Saw film was great and the ending was one of the best. In recent years, we’ve come to learn that director James Wan is a horror master, but Saw was his first film, so it was surprising. Throughout the film, each of the characters are playing their own game, having to perform their directed tasks or die. At the end of the film, we learn that Zep (Michael Emerson) is not a bad guy as we thought he was, but just another pawn forced to play a game to save his life. Then the big surprise hits home. The corpse which was lying “dead” in plain sight the entire time, rises from the ground, revealing himself as John Kramer and tells Adam (Leigh Whannell) that the key he needs to escape is in the bathtub. Once Adam realizes that the key was sucked down the drain earlier, he tries to shoot Kramer (Tobin Bell) but is zapped. As Kramer leaves the room, he turns off the lights, closes the door and says in his cool Jigsaw killer voice, “Game over.”
2. What Have You Done To Its Eyes?
There’s an entire generation of film fans who will probably never appreciate or maybe even view the greatness that is Rosemary’s Baby. Since the film’s release in 1968, there have been countless films that have copied and watered down its cultish Devil-worshipping premise, but the final sequence in the film is still a wonder. After waking from what can only be described as a terrible nightmare caused by fever and sickness from her troublesome pregnancy, Rosemary (Farah Fawcett) enters a room filled with her suspicious neighbors. She approaches the black bassinet at the head of the room, looking for her newly delivered baby. As the creepy neighbors look on, Rosemary looks at the baby, gasps and cries out, “What have you done to it? What have you done to its eyes?” We then hear a bunch of shouts for Satan and cries that Satan is the father. They also tell her to look at the hands and feet, which we then assume are hooves. The imagination is a wonderful tool that many modern filmmakers forget we have.
1. She Wouldn’t Even Harm a Fly
For many years, fans have considered the ending to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho one of the greatest of all time. After Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) has been arrested and order is restored, the camera sets its gaze on Norman at the police station. We hear the voice of his mother speaking. As the camera gets closer in on Norman’s face, we hear the voice explain how Norman is bad and how mother is good. We begin to recognize that Norma Bates is speaking through Norman; Norman has become Norma. The voice continues as a fly walks around on Norman’s hand, “They know I can’t move a finger, and I won’t. I’ll just sit here and be quiet, just in case they do… suspect me. They’re probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I’m not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching… they’ll see. They’ll see and they’ll know, and they’ll say, ‘Why, she wouldn’t even harm a fly…'”