10 highly rated thriller movies with disappointing endings, ranked best to worst

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Nothing like a good thriller to fully capture the attention of the public. When done right, an enthralling draws the viewer to sit on the edge of their seat and wonder how the fascinating story will end. The great thrillers of all time achieve this while providing a satisfying ending. Then there are those who can’t quite hold the landing.

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These thrillers have been hailed by critics and audiences alike for delivering a good film overall, but in hindsight, the endings stand out as either anti-climatic or generally unsatisfying. While that doesn’t ruin the Who movie, it keeps it from being a classic.


ten No Country for the Old People (2007)


Tommy Lee Jones in No Country for Old Men

The Coen Brothers’ Dark Thriller There is no country for old people won a handful of Oscars, including Best Picture, and was called one of the best films of the 21st century. It’s hard to argue with the praise because it is such a brilliant crime story. However, some fans were disappointed with the unexpected ending.

After following the cat and mouse chase between Moss and Chigurh for most of the film, Moss is brutally killed offscreen by third-party players. The film then focuses on Sheriff Bell contemplating his future. It’s a thoughtful ending, but some felt deprived of the reward.

9 The Night of the Hunter (1955)


While the hunter’s night didn’t get much recognition when it was first released, it has since been hailed as one of the best thrillers ever made. He is also known for delivering one of the most memorable villains in cinema.

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The film follows a pair of children hunted down by a murderous criminal named Powell who searches for stolen money he thinks the kids know. After reuniting with the children, Powell is gunned down by an old woman and locked in a barn until the police come to arrest him, which seems like an unceremonious end for such a big bad guy.

8 The Birds (1963)


Alfred Hitchcock is often considered the greatest thriller director of all time and The birds is hailed as one of his best films. Hitchcock does a great job of making ordinary birds more terrifying than audiences could have imagined.

After the birds suddenly start terrorizing a small town and killing people, the main characters hide in a house. In the morning, they walk to the car, seeing the birds staring at them strangely until they move away. Why did the birds start to attack? Why did they suddenly stop? The film never explains.

7 Joker (2019)


The end of Joker

Taking a serious, grounded look at Batman’s famous villain, Joker has become one of the most talked about movies of recent years. It became a huge box office hit and won Joaquin Phoenix the Oscar for Best Actor.

The final act of Joker finds Arthur Fleck, host of the murder talk show Murray Franklin on live television before being embraced by the crowd. The movie then abruptly switches to Arthur at an institution, engaging in a joke he was thinking about suggesting the whole movie was in his head, which makes it a lot less punchy.

6 The French Connection (1971)


The French connection is another Best Picture winner and has been called one of the greatest crime thrillers of all time. He follows the tough and immoral cop Popeye Doyle as he tries to take down a drug dealer.

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In the final sequence, Doyle and the other cops track the smuggler down to a warehouse where Doyle accidentally kills another officer. The film then ends with a text explaining that the villain has run away. While Popeye’s defeat was a fitting ending, there was a more effective way to do it.

5 The Invisible Man (2020)


Invisible Man Costume Malfunction - Invisible Man 2020

Taking a fresh take on the classic horror monster movie, The invisible Man is an incredibly intense horror thriller. The film surprised many critics and audiences alike while being named one of the best films of 2020 by many.

However, the film climaxes after the infamous restaurant scene and descends in the third act. While this never turns out to be a bad movie, it’s disappointing that it just becomes a standard monster movie with a predictable conclusion given how exciting and clever it was before that.

4 He Follows (2014)


It follows is one of the best horror movie concepts in recent memory. It revolves around a sex-transferred curse in which the wearer is relentlessly pursued by a dark force that can take the form of anyone.

The movie capitalizes on its excellent concept for much of the execution time, but the final plan for defeating the monster is pretty awkward. In the end, a shot in the head seems to stop him, which is oddly easy. At least the final shot ends the movie on a chilling note.

3 Signs (2002)


2002 Alien Face Close-Up Signs

Back in the days when M. Night Shyamalan was still being hailed as one of the best filmmakers of modern thrillers, Panels was one of his most acclaimed films. He follows a family who are fighting to stay together in the midst of an apparent alien invasion.

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The film is packed with very effective moments of suspense and terror, but everything is sloppy in the end. When the CGI aliens show up, it is revealed that water is their weakness and they are defeated by a baseball bat and a few glasses of tap water.

2 Sun (2007)


The sci-fi thriller Sunshine is a beautiful and gripping film about a space mission to try to rekindle the sun and save the earth.

For most of the runtime, the film is a compelling survival story with clever, grounded twists and characters that audiences care about. However, the final act takes an abrupt turn and becomes a fairly standard “monster roaming free on the spaceship” movie that’s a lot less interesting than the above.

1 War of the Worlds (2005)


After facing friendly aliens in HEY and Encounters of the Third Kind, Steven Speilberg has finally made a film about evil aliens. War of the Worlds was a box office hit and a critical success. Speilberg delivered the thrills and set pieces like only he can.

However, after making the aliens into unstoppable terrifying monsters, they are suddenly killed by germs. Along with the forced happy ending, the movie ends on a pretty dull side.

NEXT: War of the Worlds: 5 Ways The 1953 Movie Is Better (& 5 Ways The 2005 Movie Is)


Shared image of Blofeld in Specter and Tee Hee in Live and Let Die


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