The first few minutes of the film "Hereditary" are harrowing, almost to the point of turning it off. But once you get through that, the rest of the 2018 film builds a nice blend of psychological thriller spiced with a few pinches of supernatural. Without using gore, the intensity ratchets up.
Until the last 15 minutes, that is.
To say they're bonkers is an understatement but, since "Hereditary" is ostensibly a horror film, that's not necessarily a bad thing as long as it fits into what's come before. But "Hereditary" doesn't do that. It throws in a crazed super-supernatural ending that makes only a smidgen of sense compared to the rest of the film. It comes out of the blue and, as such, pretty much erases the suspense of the previous two hours.
Bad endings can ruin good or even semi-good films. Horror and science-fiction movies seem to be especially susceptible. Perhaps it's a matter of the director or screenwriter spending so much time building the plot or character development or just in oh-wow action scenes that they look up and suddenly realize they're at the end of the film and haven't written an ending.
Quick! Come up with something. Anything.
And sometimes it's anything.
Take "The Mist," a movie based on a short story by Stephen King. Its ending is among the most wrenching and heartbreaking ever seen, and some people just hate it. But that may be because it's so wrenching and heartbreaking.
On the other hand, "The Village" by director M. Night Shyamalan, who made the terrific "The Sixth Sense," had a terrible ending. But, if you hadn't figured out what was going on by that time, you weren't watching.
Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" has one of the most controversial endings — heck, controversial final 15 minutes — of almost any movie ever made. Most of the controversy is based on the fact that it could be difficult to figure out what was happening in those last scenes, and the final shot is ambiguous until you take the time to think about what the entire film has been about — the evolutionary progression of the human race.
But Kubrick's version of "The Shining," another film based on Stephen King's writing, is a horrid interpretation with an ending that simply robs the movie of any sense of closure. Full disclosure: I love King's "The Shining" and I hate almost everything about Kubrick's version because he basically rewrites it to fit his own narrative.
It's a frustration and an irritation when a film's ending ruins the rest of it. Who wants to feel like they've wasted 90 minutes or more?
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