Horror movies have a tendency to fall apart in the last act. The story ratchets up nicely for the firsr two-thirds, but then just devolves into gory clichés or scares we’ve seen a million times before. This problem is particularly acute for creature features, where the monster has to be frightening visually for the film to really work.
Redditors recently got together on r/movies, the largest film subreddit, to discuss which horror movies had the most disappointing monster reveals. These films build tension well, expertly teasing the antagonist, but ultimately the monster doesn’t live up to expectations.
This article contains spoilers for the films discussed.
10 ‘Cloverfield’ (2008)
This found footage creature feature takes place in New York City, as Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David) and his friends navigate the chaos of a devastating monster attack. The film holds back for a long time, only hinting at the monster, until a pivotal scene where one of the characters comes face-to-face with it. Admittedly, the CGI of the beast hasn’t aged all that well.
This is something of a controversial pick, as most viewers seem to have enjoyed Cloverfield‘s monster reveal. Nevertheless, one Redditor despised it. “Why for the love of God would you reveal the monster?!” said user Citydweller4545. “[The] movie [was] amazing because they built so much tension and fright without showing us anything. Ruined the movie revealing the monster.”
9 ‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’ (2021)
The Conjuring series has become one of the most consistently entertaining horror franchises out there. While its more recent entries may not be all that groundbreaking, they are still well-crafted and reliably spooky. However, one Redditor was unhappy that the main antagonist of The Devil Made Me Do It turns out to be a human occultist, as opposed to a ghost or demon.
“I think the thing that makes the Conjuring movies so fun is that the antagonists are spirits or demons and, in concept, don’t really have to obey any rules of how the world works. So when in Conjuring 3 they reveal that the antagonist is just a lady? She’s a human woman. Conceptually it’s just not as threatening,” one Redditor said.
8 ‘The Descent’ (2005)
The Descent revolves around a group of adventurers who become trapped in a cave system in the Appalachian Mountains. There, they are preyed upon by monstrous bat-like humanoids that dwell deep in the rock. It’s a solid film, but admittedly the creatures don’t look all that realistic.
User Precious_Tritium panned the appearance of the bat-humans, saying, “When my wife and I first saw them we started cracking up. Very noticeably just some dudes in makeup. I tried watching it again and finally made it through. So silly.”
7 ‘Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin’ (2021)
The latest installment in the Paranormal Activity franchise is probably the weakest, mainly because it messes with the mythology and strays from the fundamentals that made the earlier entries so impactful. The first movie, in particular, played on unseen horrors, so the presence of a boring old demon in Next of Kin felt out of place.
“What was a decent psychological horror was ruined by the CGI eye candy exorcism,” complained user MRedk1985. “The first movie is a masterpiece! Proves you don’t need a big reveal or monster to scare the shit out of the audience,” said Redditor Citydweller4545.
6 ‘Jeepers Creepers’ (2001)
Siblings Trish (Gina Philips) and Darry (Justin Long), are driving home from college for spring break. Along a desolate highway in rural Florida, they encounter a figure in a rusty old truck. Soon, they find themselves being pursued by a seemingly immortal creature known as the Creeper, who awakens every 23 years to feed on human flesh for 23 days.
“The first half was creepy. Some youths being chased by a mysterious man in a trench coat? Some farmer or serial killer? And suddenly he sprouted wings and became a gargoyle. Meh,” said Redditor jomarthecat. “I literally groaned as soon as I saw his wing lifting up,” agreed user OceanTumbledStone.
5 ‘The Langoliers’ (1995)
The Langoliers is a two-part TV movie based on a novella by Stephen King. The story follows a group of passengers on a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Boston who suddenly wake up to find themselves alone in the airplane. Everyone else has vanished, leaving behind only their personal belongings.
Nightmarish beings then start attacking the passengers. It’s a great concept, but the creatures are severely limited by the CGI of the time. One Redditor described them as “flying meatballs that eat everything”, while another called them “CGI Pacman monsters”. “The creatures look really bad, but hey… what could American television achieve in the 90s?” said user DortDrueben.
4 ‘House on Haunted Hill’ (1999)
Several strangers are invited to spend a night in the Vannacutt Psychiatric Institute for the Criminally Insane. Each guest is promised a substantial sum of money if they can survive until dawn, but as they explore the labyrinthine building, they quickly realize that malevolent forces are at play.
Once again, this is a decent film that is hobbled by shoddy visuals. “[House on Haunted Hill is] kinda legit until the black shadow of gooey float float is revealed,” said user girafa. “Great example. It’s a really fun movie marred by terrible CGI in the final act,” agreed Redditor WordsWithSam.
3 ‘Malignant’ (2021)
James Wan has made many great horrors, but Malignant isn’t one of them. It tells the story of Madison Mitchell (Annabelle Wallis), a woman plagued by visions of grisly murders. It’s revealed that the murderer is actually Madison’s absorbed twin brother Gabriel who lives on the back of her head.
“Malignant‘s twist was another good example of a reveal ruining a movie. I honestly didn’t really like any of the movie, but for me, the end was painfully lame,” said user Egoyle. “For me, it was the billing of it as a genuine horror movie and then it’s a VERY forward B-movie with a kinda stupid ‘monster’ and the Matrix fight scene just made it more ridiculous,” said Redditor MilksteakMayhem.
2 ‘Insidious’ (2010)
When their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) falls into an unexplained coma, Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) enlist the assistance of paranormal experts. From there, Insidious plays out like a taut thriller, until the last act, where the enemy is shown to be a red-faced demon living in its own macabre workshop in another dimension. Reddit wasn’t impressed.
“The moment they revealed the red-faced demon it ruined the movie for me. Then they doubled down with the ending,” said Redditor Traveler-0854. “That movie scared me until the moment you see the demon. Then it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s just some Mr. Tumnus dude’,” added Redditor LordFarquadOnAQuad.
1 ‘The Village’ (2004)
The Village takes place in a secluded 19th-century village nestled in the heart of a dense forest. The villagers have an unspoken pact with the mysterious creatures that inhabit the surrounding woods. As long as they do not stray from the village, the beasts will leave them alone. The creatures look great — until you find out that they’re not creatures at all but people in suits, a la Scooby-Doo.
“I honestly loved the monsters in The Village until I found out they weren’t monsters. Lame,” said user AshleySchaefferWoo. “It builds up to this massive mission, but then it’s revealed to all be fake. I enjoyed the rest of the movie, but it really drove off a cliff in the third act,” agreed Redditor CricketKieran.
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