Spoiler warning: This article spoils the endings of Get Out, Ready or Not, Things Heard and Seen and Halloween.
For those of us who like scary movies, the gut-wrenching, blanket-clutching, eye-covering moments of horror are something we crave. But at the end of a harrowing adventure, a happy ending is something to be appreciated.
After watching a protagonist supposedly beat the odds and make it out of the haunted house and survive the night or not get possessed, the final moment of satisfaction is watching the credits roll not having that moment of peace suddenly snatched from the viewers hands as a Gotcha when the monster returns at the last second. This goes doubly for horror movies that rely on suspense, especially ones in which the main character is actually well written.
Get Out and Ready Or Not are great examples of scary movies with well-deserved happy endings. These characters are ones that the viewer spends the entirety of the movie sympathizing with and rooting for. The suspense is built not just with mounting unease as the supporting characters begin to reveal their true intentions, but also with the growing desire for the main character to escape this terrifying situation.
At the end of both of these films, after being subjected to a horrific situation in which it seems like the protagonist wont possibly make it out alive, the viewer is rewarded for all the suspense they sat through. The ending is cathartic.
In Get Out, after Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) finally escapes the mayhem of a family trying to medically possess his body, theres a moment of heightened horror when police lights flash only for it to be Chris friend, a TSA agent. The same goes for Ready Or Not. This film is full of running, hiding and fighting, but it ends not with a disappointing ending in which the protagonist is caught but rather a satisfying one where she finally prevails.
Even better, the protagonists in these films dont just escape. The pursuers trying to kill them are killed themselves, which can be satisfying for viewers. Its a breath of release and even a moment to cheer for.
I like when at least one person is still alive, Kennedy Burke, a senior English major, said.
But, oftentimes, horror movies like to pull the rug out from under the viewer at the very last moment. Granted, sometimes this can make for a better ending. Knowing that the terror isnt truly over can leave a desired feeling of unsettlement with the viewer even after the movie ends, but its not always the cathartic ending many viewers crave.
Tessa McGrady, a senior English major, said that what ruins a horror movie is if its too predictable or if the ending is fully explained. As for what makes it good, she said it has to have some kind of psychological aspect to it its not just gory scary, its psychologically scary.
There are countless examples of horror movies that fail to provide an ending that feels earned. Things Heard & Seen, is an example of this, wherein a string of ghostly women try to save living wives from being murdered by their own husbands, but they ultimately fail and simultaneously fail to deliver an ending easy to care about.
Another example of this phenomenon is the Halloween series. At this point, theyre making more movies just to make them. Theres always a shoddy explanation as to how Michael Myers survives at the end of the film, and the scares feel cheap and unearned especially after so many dissatisfactory endings.
Most of the time, horror movies fall flat because the characters arent well written. Too much time is spent trying to set up the fear factors rather than developing characters who the audience can relate to and root for. But when a horror movie manages to make the audience actually care about the protagonist, it should at least respect its viewers enough to give them a satisfying ending.
CONTACTJillian at email@example.com. Jillian Carey is a senior media arts and design major.
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Scary movies should have cathartic endings | Opinion | breezejmu.org - The Breeze
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