An average movie can be saved by a great ending. The perfect twist or the perfect capper - even if it is just a great closing line - can have you reveling as you leave the theater.
Or it can go the other way. Otherwise likable movies get stuck with something terrible at the end, a brick wall at the end of a long cinematic tunnel. Or a terrible movie just gets worse. This is a list of those movies.
It should be said that this list has some rules. It isn't enough for the movie just to have an ending that people didn't like. An ending might be a downer or weird or unexpected, but that's not what this list is about. For instance, a lot of people feel the space-child ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey is worthy candidate for "bad ending" status. But it might also be a work of genius. So movies like I Am Legend, Signs and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull are nowhere to be found on this list. Those endings may or may not be unlikable (just about everything in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is unlikable), but they're still part of the movie as it was made. If you're making a movie about a glass alien skull, it's not a bad ending to have there be aliens at the end. Instead, the movies on this list are the ones where the conclusion of the movie basically ruined the experience. Either the filmmakers completely punted on figuring out a conclusion, or maybe they tried one twist too many, or maybe they reverted to a tired old cliche.
It should be said that as this is a list of movie endings, it's also pretty much a list of SPOILERS. You've been warned.
13 Devil's Advocate (1997)
12 Devil Inside (2012)
11 Psycho (1960)
Psycho is one of the all-time great movies. It is made by Alfred Hitchcock, one of the all-time great directors. It also has one of cinema history's most famous bad endings to a great movie.
10 Superman (1978)
For the most part, Superman is a well-respected movie. It is the original epic that made superhero stories true blockbuster material, and therefore is the godfather of most of our current summer fare. It was a hit for director Richard Donner, made a star of Christopher Reeve and eventually spawned three sequels (not to mention the movies in the current reboot cycle).
9 April Fool's Day (1986)
8 Swimming Pool (2003)
7 Secret Window (2004)
6 Color Of Night (1994)
5 Perfect Stranger (2007)
There's plenty wrong with Perfect Stranger besides its over-twisty ending. The thriller is an over-politicized mess, attempting to touch every key cultural touchstone of its time: how scary the internet is; the anti-gay lawmaker who's really secretly gay; the corporate executive with who has an affair with his employee. The last part serves as the setup for the story.
4 High Tension (2003)
3 Savages (2012)
The ridiculous conclusion to Savages wastes a set of good performances. The main characters are played by Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who do a capable job as a trio that gets in over its head with the Mexican cartels. But Benicio del Toro and Salma Hayek really bring the fireworks and director Oliver Stone does his usual job keeping things visually interesting.
2 Vanilla Sky (2001)
1 Planet Of The Apes (2001)
The original Planet of the Apes, released in 1968 and starring Charlton Heston, has one of the film's all-time most famous endings. That ending was amazing, and we can say nothing but good things about it. That's not the movie that makes this list. The movie on this list is the ill-advised 2001 remake, directed by Tim Burton and starring Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth and Helena Bonham Carter. Whatever else might be wrong with the movie, the ending is absolutely atrocious. In it, Wahlberg's human astronaut character escapes the planet of the apes and makes it back to Earth, only to find that the Earth is now ruled by apes. This is punctuated by a Lincoln Memorial that resembles the one here on our planet, but it has an ape instead of Honest Abe. It may be possible to explain how or why this would happen (but probably not). But we can do little behind try to actually explain this one.
Sources: IMDB,<span class="st"> </span>A.V. Club, Rotten Tomatoes
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