8+ Horror Movies with Alternate Endings: Which Ending is Best?

Alternate endings in movies are fun, but they aren’t always great. Here we take a look a few horror movies with alternate endings to decide which finale is best.

Different releases of Army of Darkness (1992) on home video contain different endings. The “Screwhead Edition” Blu-ray, for example, has the alternate ending as a bonus feature while the “Official Bootleg Edition” uses the alternate ending in the movie itself.
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Alternate endings in movies occur for various reason. Sometimes test screenings get poor reactions, so an alternate ending is made to address viewers’ issues. Other times studios will disagree with a director, forcing the issue of modifying a film’s finale. Lots of changes often happen from script to screen, so sometimes filmmakers will simply choose to go in a different direction with the story. The possibilities are numerous.

What’s fun is when these alternate endings are actually filmed and released, often as bonus features on physical media. Whether they’re good, bad, or just odd, alternate endings provide a fun “what if” for the audience. This article compiles some of the most interesting horror movie alternate endings with the intention of determining which ending is a better fit for the film. Obviously, beware of major spoilers for every movie on this list.

Alternate Endings in Horror Movies

Get Out (2017)

Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams in Get Out (2017).
Jordan Peele won Best Original Screenplay at the 2018 Academy Awards for Get Out. (pictured: Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams)

Jordan Peele’s first film as a director, Get Out, is about a Black man, Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), who visits the family of his White girlfriend, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams). While staying at her parents’ home, Chris uncovers a conspiracy within their community in which the Armitage family have developed a way to transplant people’s minds into other people’s bodies, giving them a form of immortality. Chris also discovers that they mainly target Black people. As the movie nears its end, Chris attempts to escape when Rose confronts him. Rose ends up being shot, and that’s where the following two endings diverge.

Lil Rel Howery in Get Out (2017).
Get Out was the first major film role for Lil Rel Howery (who plays Chris’s best friend Rod).

Theatrical Ending: Chris goes over to Rose and chokes her. He stops short of killing her though. A car with flashing lights arrives on the scene, and Chris puts his hands up to await his inevitable arrest. Instead, Chris’s friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery), who is a TSA Agent, steps out of the car. Rod drives Chris away from the scene as Rose is left dying in the road.

Daniel Kaluuya in the alternate ending of Get Out (2017).
Though the alternate ending was the originally intended ending, Jordan Peele has said in Blu-ray commentary that he decided to change it because society was changing, and people needed “a release and a hero.”

Alternate Ending: Chris chokes Rose in this ending as well, but he doesn’t stop until she is dead. A police car arrives, and Chris is arrested. Months later, Rod visits Chris in prison. Rod tries to get information from Chris about the Armitage family so he can maybe help clear his friend’s name, but Chris doesn’t give Rod anything. Instead Chris says, “I’m good. I stopped him.” Chris is then escorted back to his cell as the movie ends.

The Best Ending: This is a tough one. On the one hand, the alternate ending where Chris is imprisoned is probably better thematically. It’s really bleak, but that better represents the reality of what Jordan Peele is talking about. On the other hand, the ending where Chris escapes with Rod is much more hopeful, and it even ends with a little joke from Rod. The better ending probably depends on your mood while watching, but if a decision has to be made, the alternate ending is the best.

The Descent (2005)

Juno and Sarah explore the caves in The Descent (2005).
Juno and Sarah both return in the sequel, The Descent Part 2 (2009). (pictured: Juno and Sarah in 2005’s The Descent)

In The Descent, a group of friends go on a spelunking trip a year after Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) loses her husband and daughter in a car crash. Sarah’s friend Juno (Natalie Mendoza) takes charge of the trip, secretly leading the group to an uncharted cave system in hopes of surprising them with a true adventure by being the first people to explore the area. They are not the first people in caves though. After becoming trapped inside increasingly claustrophobic tunnels, the friends discover a race of violent, humanoid creatures who evolved to live in total darkness. The “crawlers” kill the friends one by one, until only Juno and Sarah are left.

Sarah Scream when she sees a vision of Juno in The Descent (2005).
Director Neil Marshall says the shortened US ending tested slightly better in pre-release screenings in the United States.

Alternate US Ending: Sarah and Juno fight off a group of crawlers near the end of The Descent. At this point, Sarah knows that Juno had an affair with her husband, and that Juno left one of their friends to die in the caves after (accidentally) stabbing her in the neck. Sarah confronts Juno with this knowledge before stabbing Juno in the leg. Sarah runs away, leaving a hobbled Juno behind to survive on her own with multiple crawlers closing in. Juno’s screams are heard as Sarah slips down into a pit, knocking herself unconscious. When she wakes, Sarah sees daylight. Sarah escapes from the cave and finds her vehicle. While in the car, Sarah has a vision of Juno seated in the passenger seat, her face covered in blood and looking at Sarah with an accusing glare. The movie ends there.

Sarah is alone in The Descent (2005).
Neil Marshall’s original intent was to have Sarah trapped in the cave at the end of the movie.

Original UK Ending: The original ending, which was released in UK theaters, is slightly longer. Everything is the same as the US ending, but after seeing Juno’s blood-covered face, Sarah wakes up back in the cave. It turns out everything that happens after she knocks herself out while escaping is a dream. Sarah never escaped the cave, and she is still trapped inside. Sarah has a vision of her daughter in the cave with her, but as the camera pulls back, we see that Sarah is all alone. The movie ends with the sounds of crawlers getting louder.

The Best Ending: The original UK ending is much better. Sarah being trapped in the cave indefinitely is a better metaphor for Sarah’s dark journey throughout the movie. Apparently test screenings in the United States scored better with the shorter ending and that’s why it was released that way in the US, but the original, longer ending is definitely the best.

The Ruins (2008)

The Ruins (2008).
The Ruins is based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Scott Smith.

The Ruins is a gruesome survival horror movie about carnivorous killer plants that grow on and inside people’s bodies. Four American tourists are on vacation in Mexico when they decide to visit some remote ruins with a couple of other tourists they meet at their resort. Once the group sets foot on the killer plants, the local population forces them to stay on the ruins with no food or water other than what they brought with them. Basically, the tourists are quarantined due to the plants being incredibly dangerous and highly invasive.

Jena Maline in The Ruins (2008).
Jena Malone reunited with the director of The Ruins, Carter Smith, in the 2023 movie Swallowed.

Theatrical Ending: The original ending shown in theaters shows Amy (Jena Malone) as the final tourist to survive. She escapes from the ruins and runs to a jeep hidden in the jungle. Amy is then able to drive away with no indication that she carries any of the plants with or inside her. The final scene then shows two friends of one of the tourists arriving at the ruins, unaware that they are probably about to die.

The alternate ending of Th Runs (2008).
Even though none of the movie’s endings match the novel’s ending precisely, the alternate ending that shows a funeral back in the United States is the farthest from the book.

Alternate Ending: On the unrated DVD and Blu-Ray for The Ruins, there are two alternate endings, one of which is integrated into the unrated version of the movie. In that ending, Amy gets away in the jeep, but as she’s driving we see tendrils of the plants growing beneath her skin. Amy realizes she is infected, and the scene ends. The final scene then shows the two tourist friends arriving at the ruins just like in the theatrical ending.

An additional bonus feature on the home video version of The Ruins changes the final scene. We see Amy discover that she is infected like in the unrated ending, but the movie then cuts to a cemetery in the United States. A caretaker is walking through a graveyard when he hears the whistling sound viewers will recognize as one of the noises the plants make. The caretaker then see’s Amy’s gravestone, and growing on it are the carnivorous plants. As the caretaker reaches out to touch the plants, the movie ends.

The Best Ending: The unrated alternate ending, where Amy discovers she is infected and then the friends show up at the ruins, is the best. A relatively happy ending for Amy as seen in the theatrical version is fine, but the downer of seeing Amy infected fits the tone of the movie better. And while the US graveyard scene is fun, the change in location is jarring.

I Am Legend (2007)

Sam and Neville in I Am Legend (2007).
Will Smith wanted to adopt the dog actor who played Sam.

In I Am Legend, Will Smith plays Robert Neville, a man living alone in New York City three years after an infection killed most of the world’s population. Most of the people who didn’t die were turned into Darkseekers, which are monstrous, infected humans that act like something between a vampire (sensitive to sunlight) and a zombie (low intelligence, pack mentality, highly aggressive) even though they are still alive. Neville devotes himself to finding a cure, capturing Darkseekers to run experiments on, and to test his potential cures.

Will Smith in I Am Legend (2007).
After seeing the alternate ending, the theatrical ending feels hollow.

Theatrical Ending: Neville discovers the cure for the virus, but his home is invaded by Darkseekers. Trapped in his lab with fellow survivor Anna (Alice Braga) and her son Ethan, Neville gives a vial of his cure to Anna and has her and Ethan barricade themselves in a coal chute. Neville then takes a grenade and blows up his lab along with the Darkseekers and himself. The final scene shows Anna and Ethan arriving at a survivor’s colony.

The alpha Darkseeker carries his mate in I am Legend (2007).
The sequel to I Am Legend will use the alternate ending as canon.

Alternate Ending: In the alternate ending, which was the original ending shown in test screenings, Neville doesn’t find a cure, but he is trapped by Darkseekers in his lab with Anna and Ethan. The alpha Darkseeker uses his hand to make an image of a butterfly on the glass between him and Neville. Remembering the butterfly tattoo on the neck of the female Darkseeker he’s been experimenting on, Neville realizes the alpha is there to save his mate. Neville opens the glass door and returns the female Darkseeker to the alpha. The Darkeekers leave, and we then see Neville, Anna, and Ethan driving away from New York City with the hope of finding fellow survivors.

The Best Ending: The alternate ending is easily the best. For one thing, by forcing Neville to realize he’s been kidnapping and experimenting on people who are infected, but who still have emotions and a level of intelligence, it better conveys the ending of the novel. It also leaves viewers with a bit of hope that Neville and Anna will be okay even if a cure is never found.

1408 (2007)

John Cusack in 1408 (2007)
The short story “1408” by Stephen King first appeared as part of the audiobook Blood and Smoke (1999), and later appeared in Everything’s Eventual (2002) in written form.

Based on the short story of the same name by Stephen King, 1408 stars John Cusack as writer and skeptic Mike Enslin. Mike chooses room 1408 of The Dolphin Hotel as his next target for debunking. The room is supposedly so haunted that no one has lasted inside it for more than an hour, and multiple people have died there. Mike has a series of life-altering supernatural experiences in the room, culminating with him setting the room on fire.

John Cusack plays a tape recorder in 1408 (2007).
None of the endings to 1408 are like the ending of the short story (which is exceedingly bleak).

Theatrical Ending: In theaters, Mike barely escapes the fire in room 1408. Some time later, we see Mike and his wife Lily (Mary McCormack). Mike is finishing writing his book about his experiences when Lily discovers a box of his belongings from the night in 1408. Inside is a tape recorder. Playing the tape, Mike and Lily hear a recording from that night, a recording that contains the voice of their deceased daughter Katie. Lily is shocked, and Mike just looks at her knowingly.

Samuel L. Jackson in 1408 (2007).
Test audiences thought the alternate (originally intended) ending was too depressing.

Alternate Ending: There are multiple different endings for 1408. The main alternate ending, the one that director Mikael Håfström originally intended to use, involves the hotel’s manager Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson). In this ending, Mike dies in the fire, and Olin attends his funeral. Olin attempts to give Mike’s widow his belongings from the night he died, but she refuses. In his car, Olin plays the tape recorder, hearing Mike and Katie in 1408. Olin briefly sees a burned vision of Mike in the rearview mirror of his car. Afterwards, in the burned-out room 1408, the ghost of Mike disappears as he walks towards his daughter’s voice.

Other endings include Mike’s publisher Sam (Tony Shalhoub) finding Mike’s completed manuscript for the book about room 1408, and a modified version of the theatrical ending in which Lily doesn’t hear the recording Mike plays of him and their daughter.

The Best Ending: Both the theatrical ending and the main alternate ending where Olin attends Mike’s funeral are sad, but they are both fitting conclusions. Seeing Mike’s ghost joined with his daughter in the afterlife might be better though, so the alternate ending is the best.

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (2021)

Taylor Russell in Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (2021).
Taylor Russell seems open to a second Escape Room sequel, but which ending to Tournament of Champions would they use?

Zoey (Taylor Russell) and Ben (Logan Miller) are once again trapped by the nefarious Minos Corporation in Escape Room: Tournament of Champions. They learn that all of the people trapped within this new series of escape rooms are survivors of previous Minos games. The group gets smaller as people die in various ways, leading up to Zoey being the lone survivor of a room where acid periodically falls from the ceiling.

Deborah Ann Woll  in Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (2021).
The alternate ending completely cuts out Deborah Ann Woll’s scenes and reframes the clues seen throughout the movie.

Theatrical Ending: After solving the acid room, Zoey falls into what looks like a child’s room. As Zoey starts putting together clues spread throughout all of the previous rooms, Amanda (Deborah Ann Woll) enters the room. Amanda is a competitor thought to have died in the first Escape Room movie, but she reveals that she was actually saved from certain death and recruited to create puzzles for Minos. Now, Minos wants Zoey to design puzzles. For leverage, Ben (who was also saved from presumed death) is put into an inescapable trap. If Zoey refuses to join Minos, Ben will die. Defiantly, Zoey saves Ben and gets everyone out alive. Later, while on an airplane, Zoey realizes Minos is still pursuing her.

Isabelle Fuhrman in Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (2021).
Isabelle Fuhrman would make a great ongoing villain if the franchise were to continue.

Alternate Ending: The alternate ending for Escape Room: Tournament of Champions comes at the end of a different edit of the movie. Certain scenes are altered, and others are completely added to create an entirely new subplot. That subplot involves Henry (James Frain) who is holding his daughter Claire (Isabelle Fuhrman) captive. Henry is thought to the puzzle maker for Minos, but the puzzles are actually designed by Claire.

After the acid room, Claire has Zoey brought to her cell. Claire convinces Zoey to help her escape captivity. Claire manages to trap her father Henry in her old cell, and then Claire allows Zoey to leave with Ben (whom Claire also saves). After Zoey and Ben get away safely, it is revealed that Claire is more evil than her father. As a child, Claire killed her own mother, and in the present Claire kills her father. Now, presumably, Claire is the head of Minos.

The Best Ending: The alternate ending is the best. For one thing, it fits better with all of the clues spread throughout the movie. It also establishes some of the story about Minos, and it sets up any future sequels as being even more deadly than what we’ve already seen. As for the theatrical ending, it’s wonderful to see Deborah Ann Woll back, but bringing back Amanda feels cheap and kind of nonsensical.

Final Destination (2000)

Devon Sawa in Final Destination (2000).
Director James Wong and cowriter Glen Morgan reteamed for Final Destination 3 (2006). (pictured: Devon Sawa as Alex)

Devon Sawa stars in Final Destination as Alex. Alex avoids certain death after he has a premonition of his high-school class trip to Paris being cut short by an airplane explosion. Now, Alex and the few people who followed him off the plane prior to the explosion are stalked by Death. As each survivor is picked off one by one in a series of supernatural, Rube-Goldberg-like death sequences, Alex realizes that Death is taking them in the order they were originally supposed to die. Leading up to the finale, Alex realizes that his classmate and friend Clear (Ali Larter) is next in line. Death is following through with its plan. If Alex can save Clear, then maybe Death’s plan can be avoided entirely.

Carter about to get smashed in the theatrical ending of Final Destination (2000).
Glen Morgan and James Wong both worked as writers on the series The X-Files, and they cowrite one of the show’s best episodes: “Beyond the Sea” (pictured: Kerr Smith as Carter)

Theatrical Ending: The original ending shows Alex racing to Clear’s house where he finds her trapped in a car that is being attacked by an electrical wire. The car catches fire as well, forcing Alex to move the live wire by hand so Clear can escape. Clear escapes, the car explodes, and Alex is electrocuted. Six months later, Alex is alive, and he, Clear, and Alex’s former tormentor Carter (Kerr Smith) finally take their trip to Paris. Alex feels like there’s something he missed, and Carter suggests that Alex is still next in line to die. Sure enough, Alex is immediately in danger from a speeding bus and a falling sign from a building. Carter saves Alex, but by doing so Carter is smashed and killed by the falling sign instead. Death has apparently cycled through its intended victims and is starting over.

Kerr Smith and Ali Larter in the alternate ending of Final Destination (2000)
The script for Final Destination was originally written by Jeffrey Reddick as a spec script for The X-Files. (pictured: Kerr Smith, Ali Larter, and a baby)

Alternate Ending: The alternate ending begins the same way as the theatrical ending with Alex racing to save Clear from a burning and electrified car. This time, when Alex moves the electrical wire, he catches on fire and is killed. Months later, Clear gives birth to a baby she names after the boy’s father, Alexander. Later, Clear feels a wind she attributes to Alex’s presence. The alternate ending finishes with Clear and Carter talking about how they cheated Death and won. They are now free to live their lives.

The Best Ending: The theatrical ending is much better. There’s something to be said about creating life out of death in the alternate ending, but it just feels odd. The original, theatrical ending with Carter getting killed is much more satisfying, and it fits better with the campy tone of the rest of the movie.

Army of Darkness (1992)

Ash talks to primitive screwheads in Army of Darkness (1992).
The studio, Universal, is largely responsible for the changes made to the ending of Army of Darkness.

Army of Darkness, a direct sequel to Evil Dead II, drops Ash (Bruce Campbell) in medieval times thanks to a portal opened by a spell in the Necronomicon. Unfortunately for Ash, he still has to fight Deadites in the past. Unfortunately for everyone else, Ash makes everything worse by accidentally raising the evil Army of Darkness.

Ash holds a gun in S-Mart in Army of Darkness (1992).
The theatrical ending does leave more room to continue the franchise than the alternate ending (even though, due to rights issues, they couldn’t mention Army of Darkness when the TV series Ash vs Evil Dead began).

Theatrical Ending: When the Army of Darkness attacks, Ash is eventually able to help lead the medieval people in defense of their castle. In return, Ash is given a potion that, combined with the right words, will make him sleep until he is back in his own time. Ash rides away on a horse, and the next time we see him is in modern times, working at a department store called S-Mart. Ash is telling the story of his adventure to a coworker (Ted Raimi) who clearly doesn’t believe him. Then, a Deadite appears, and Ash fights it off in heroic fashion. A woman fawns over Ash as the movie ends.

Ash alone in an apocalyptic future in Army of Darkness (1992).
Bruce Campbell has stated that he prefers the alternate, original ending.

Alternate Ending: After receiving the potion he needs to sleep until his own time, Ash barricades himself in a cave. Ash is supposed to only take six drops of the potion, but he miscounts and takes seven. Ash oversleeps, waking up in a post-apocalyptic future where mankind has destroyed itself.

The Best Ending: Ash screwing up and oversleeping definitely fits the tone of the story and the character of Ash. Sure, it’s a downer ending, but it’s also really funny. The alternate ending was actually the original ending, but Universal Pictures pressured Sam Raimi to change it to what was seen in theaters. The theatrical ending is good, but the alternate ending is better. It may be the best alternate ending on this entire list.

Other Horror Movies with Alternate Endings

  • Dawn of the Dead (1978) – The original ending, which was never filmed, had survivors Peter and Francine giving up and killing themselves. While most zombie movies and shows end up feeling hopeless, that may be a bit too bleak.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) – The theatrical version ends with Nancy and her friends trapped inside a car that has Freddy’s distinct red-and-green sweater stripes on its roof. One of the alternate endings has Freddy Krueger actually driving the car. Robert Englund pushed for the alternate ending, but Wes Craven never liked it much.
  • Paranormal Activity (2007) – In the theatrical ending Katie kills Micah, and an epilogue states that Katie is missing. In the original ending Katie is shot and killed by police. In another alternate ending, Katie kills herself while possessed.
  • Halloween Kills (2021) – The alternate ending shows Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) leaving the hospital, apparently to go after Michael Myers. The ending was likely changed because Laurie on a warpath seems to make a promise for the sequel, Halloween Ends (2022), that would have never been paid off.

Further Reading

Meet The Author

Chris has a degree in film studies at Temple University’s campus in Tokyo, Japan. He is a renowned expert on horror cinema.