There are some movies that defy expectations of the general public and bravely go against convention to wrap up in a way that nobody expects. People like happy endings; I believe that is ingrained in our nature. I'm not talking about twist endings, although there are plenty of those out there. No, I'm talking about movies with endings so devastating, so shatteringly depressing, that one just doesn't know if they could watch the movie again just to be confronted with that ending again.
This topic occurred to me after watching a show I have watched before, albeit my first viewing was decades ago. George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" is a movie steeped in notorious reputation. I am not in the business of giving away endings here; I vehemently HATE spoilers. I won't tell you what happens at the end; although this movie is so old, I suspect MANY have seen it and know full well how the ending just knocks the breath out of you. It was callous, shocking, and perhaps even a little senseless. It certainly doesn't end the way we would have liked. I had actually forgotten over the years about that ending, and remembered it halfway through the movie as I watched it several nights ago, and when I remembered the ending, it was all I could think about, and that honestly kind of ruined the rest of the movie for me.
Another movie that comes to mind is a lesser-seen movie from a few years ago called "The Pledge", starring Jack Nicholson. I simply cannot take that ending again. It was a very good movie with such a stirring performance from Nicholson that it is worth a second watch except for that ending. Now, I'm not talking about cop-outs or cheats, with an ending that cheapens the rest of the movie by wrapping things up into a neat little bundle. No, this ending, and the one for the "Night of the Living Dead" are perhaps the most truthful endings, the kind of endings that must happen. Even so, I seriously cannot watch "The Pledge" ever again. I just cannot bear the last few minutes.
"District 9" also had a very sad, but I suppose, inevitable ending. It was almost beautiful in its sorrow, but how that beauty hurts.
And, for a final example, an excellent movie called "American History X" starring Edward Norton. This is a tough film to watch throughout, because its depiction of a certain lifestyle is stark, realistic, and makes no apologies. This is one of the most brutally truthful movies you will ever see. But the ending - OH! that ending. It doesn't end the way we wish, but again, the way it must, staying truthful right up to the end. This is the one movie that I must recommend, however, even with the hurtful ending. You MUST see this film, but be warned that it is not for the faint of heart. If you are easily offended, you won't get past the first five minutes. But this is one movie that is worth a watch or ten, even when you know the ending.
What are some movies you have seen that end in a way not expected, and perhaps not wanted? I am sure others have their own films to add here. Or, if you have seen any of the above movies, what do you think? Happy movie watching, kiddies!