10 most depressing movie endings ever

Be warned: spoilers a-plenty lie within, as Martin reveals the movies that leave you feeling completely depressed once the final reel has finished.

The Descent

One famously mistranslated sign in a Swiss restaurant reads: ‘Our wines leave you nothing to hope for’. You’ll know how the patrons feel if you walk out of Blockbuster with this little lot….


10: Soylent Green (1973) Future cop Chuck Heston has been through hell trying to find out what the big secret at the core of his overcrowded society is, only to find that the Soylent Company that provides food for the starving earth has been processing human bodies and feeding it to the populace. Dragged off by the authorities, the last shot is of desperate Heston’s hand crying out for justice as he cries: ‘Soylent Green is people!’.

9: The Elephant Man (1980)David Lynch’s classic telling of the fortunes of the deformed but transcendent John Merrick could actually have had a relatively happy ending, with Merrick loved and cared for. Instead Lynch shoots right past this hard-won contentment to create a bittersweet montage of images that pre-figure the beginning of his next film, Dune (1984), showing the ghostly visage of Merrick’s possibly imaginary mother floating through space as Merrick peacefully takes his own life. “Nothing will die…”

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8: The Descent (2005)Exactly how depressing you find the ending of Neil Marshall’s tale of pot-holing horror depends on how involved you are able to become with his abrasive set of female characters. The re-cuts in the U.S. release leave the film with two possible endings, the bleaker of which finds the surviving character awaking from a psychotic dream of an improbably easy escape, to find herself buried alive in the goblin-strewn labyrinth.

7: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)Jittery Veronica Cartwright approaches fellow refugee Donald Sutherland, having lost him in the flight from the pod-people Sutherland is standing by some trees looking confused. He spies Cartwright. They’ve been through hell together. He raises his arm and points at her accusingly, and lets out a ululating cry that will alert all the other pod-people to her presence!

6: The Fly (1986)Brundlefly, in a last ditch effort to reverse the genetic collision between himself and a house fly, takes one last, unwise trip in his teleportation devise, to emerge as a ghastly fusion of teleporter metal and monster. A horrified Geena Davis watches the thing approach with a shot gun in her hand. Brundlefly’s had enough – he gets hold of the end of the barrel and positions it between his own fly eyes. Davies pulls the trigger and breaks out in tears.

5: Dead Ringers (1988)More vein-opening from David Cronenberg. This bizarre and affecting tale of twin gynaecologist brothers concludes with a touching but miserable suicide pact between the insane siblings.

4: Spider (2002)Yet more Canadian grimness from Cronenberg, as Ralph Fiennes’ oedipal protagonist decides to end the drudgery of his impoverished and schizophrenic life by taking it.

3: Nineteen-Eighty Four (1984)Dissident Winston Smith realises there’s a limit to the power of love, as a nasty run-in with rats in Room 101 turns him into a model Oceanian citizen who renounces his rebel girlfriend and embraces Big Brother.

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2: A.I. – Artificial Intelligence (2001)Having been abandoned by his mum in one of the most disturbing and misery-inducing scenes in contemporary cinema, robot boy Haley Joel Osment stares depressed into space at the bottom of the Hudson River for 2000 years, only to be rescued by itinerant aliens who use science/magic to give him the long lost mum he always wanted – and then take her away from him just before he expires forever.

1: The Mist (2007)After driving desperately through the blasted, monster-strewn landscape of Frank Darabont’s 2007 Stephen King adaptation, Thomas Jane finally runs out of fuel. With only four bullets left, Jane gallantly spares his son, his new love interest and two close friends the horror of being eaten by the nasties, and nobly goes out to face his fate – only to find that the Military have finally come and are mopping up the debris. Another two minutes and everyone in the car would have been saved!

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