WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for multiple movies.
- Slasher movies often struggle to strike a balance between killing off characters and keeping them likable for viewers to care about their fate.
- Modern slashers like Thanksgiving and Scream 6 have taken a trend of killing off minor characters in brutal fashion while sparing the main characters, which can be seen as a cheat.
- Some horror movies, like The Strangers and Final Destination 5, have gone against expectations and killed off all of their heroes, leading to shocking and bleak endings.
While most slashers cut a bloody swathe through their cast, there are surprisingly few entries into the horror subgenre that take things to their logical extreme and kill off every character. Slasher movies have a tough job. For a slasher to be an effective addition to the subgenre, the movie must be relatively ruthless and kill off most of its cast. However, the movie’s characters need to be likable for viewers to care about their fate. As a result, viewers can end up annoyed when their favorite characters are killed, or equally annoyed when a slasher movie toothlessly cops out and fails to kill off enough stars.
This has led to a trend among modern slashers, such as Thanksgiving and Scream 6, both of which killed off minor characters in exceedingly nasty fashion only to leave all of the main characters alive by the closing credits. This is something of a cheat code since one of the subgenre’s original selling points was the idea that no one was safe. While the Final Girl usually made it to the end, everyone else was fair game. Not only that, but some more nihilistic slashers even killed off their resourceful heroines as well.
10 The Strangers
This Home Invasion Horror Left No Survivors
- Release Date
- May 30, 2008
- Scott Speedman, Laura Margolis, Gemma Ward, Kip Weeks, Liv Tyler, Glenn Howerton
- Horror, Mystery, Thriller
One of the darkest home invasion horror movies ever made, 2008’s The Strangers is an exercise in narrative efficiency. The infamous horror movie takes place in almost real-time, features only a small handful of characters, and doesn’t provide much in the way of a backstory for its two bickering leads. However, by the time the titular villains kick off their campaign of terror, viewers will be too scared to notice. In a shockingly bleak dénouement, The Strangers killed off all its heroes in the movie’s ambiguous ending and never even revealed the motivations or identities of the villains.
9 Final Destination 5
The Slasher Franchise Ended Back At Its Beginning
Final Destination 5
- Release Date
- August 12, 2011
- Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, Tony Todd, Emma Bell, David Koechner, Nicholas D’Agosto
- Horror, Thriller
The Final Destination franchise came full circle with the ingenious twist ending of Final Destination 5, which infamously revealed that the sequel was secretly set immediately before the original movie in the final scenes. Just as it looked like a few of the heroes had successfully cheated death, they boarded the same plane that blew up at the beginning of Final Destination. Thus, Final Destination 5 became a rare slasher sequel with no survivors and ended the series on a high note.
8 Dead Silence
The Killer Doll Horror’s Villain Was Too Powerful
Dead Silence was a horror movie about cursed ventriloquist dummies that flopped at the box office and failed to replicate James Wan’s earlier success with Saw. However, this underrated horror deserved better thanks to its killer twist, which revealed that the hero was doomed from the moment he set foot in Dead Silence’s small-town setting. The protagonist ended up being turned into a dummy himself, a twist that sounds like it belongs in a Goosebumps adaptation but somehow worked well in this downbeat supernatural horror.
7 Maniac (2012)
This Slasher Remake Killed Its Leading Man and His Victims
2012’s Maniac was an ambitious remake of the 1980’s infamous serial killer psychological thriller of the same name, but the movie had a gimmick that made even William Lustig’s original horror movie seem tame. Maniac was told entirely in a POV shot from the killer’s perspective, making it one of the most immersive cinematic nightmares in the medium’s history. Fittingly, this bleak trip into Hell ended with the movie’s lead character dying after every other named character met a gruesome fate at his hands.
6 Eden Lake
This Infamous “Hoodie Horror” Dispatched Both Its Leads
2008’s Eden Lake was one of many movies in the regrettable hoodie horror trend of the late ‘00s, a largely British fad that preyed on fears of antisocial youths. An intense survival horror, Eden Lake starred Michael Fassbender and Kelly Reilly as Steve and Jenny, a young couple whose idyllic vacation was ruined by loutish kids who turned viciously violent when challenged by Steve. In a twist that stretched credulity, Steve was murdered by the kids while Jenny escaped to a local neighborhood, only to discover she had unwittingly arrived at the home of the killer children’s parents.
5 The Rental
This 2020 Air B+B Horror Left Viewers Hopeless
- Release Date
- July 24, 2020
- Sheila Vand, Jeremy Allen White, Dan Stevens, Toby Huss, Alison Brie
- Horror, Thriller
2020’s The Rental assembled a killer cast for director Dave Franco’s debut about a group of friends stalked by unseen attackers while renting a remote country home for a weekend getaway. Dan Stevens, Alison Brie, Sheila Vand, and Jeremy Allen White were all typically strong as the heroes, which made it all the more surprising when none of their characters made it out alive. In The Rental’s jaw-dropping ending, the pitiless villains got away with everything as all of the heroes met their brutal deaths one by one.
4 Wrong Turn 5
The Wrong Turn Franchise’s Zenith Killed Its Whole Cast
While the Wrong Turn franchise was never a classic slasher series, it had some potential in its early outings. This had entirely dried up by Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines, the most unapologetically unpleasant sequel in the series. Although utterly un-scary, this sequel is notable for being the second Wrong Turn movie with no survivors, although its predecessor at least had an excuse since that movie was a prequel explaining the backstories of the villains.
3 House of 1000 Corpses
Rob Zombie’s Pitiless ’70s Horror Homage Featured No Final Girl
A bizarre, blackly comic spin on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre premise, Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses introduced the sadistic Firefly clan to horror fans. Viewers had better hope they liked these gurning villains since none of the teens who met them in House of 1000 Corpses survived to see the next movie in the series. The rest of the movies focused on the Firefly family, pivoting from House of 1000 Corpses’ Gothic horror style to a dark road movie aesthetic with The Devil’s Rejects.
2 Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
Jordana Brewster’s character didn’t make it
2006’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning saw another group of doomed teenagers head out into the sweltering Texas wilderness and encounter the lethal Sawyer family. However, this otherwise predictable prequel did feature one truly surprising scene in the form of its ending. After evading the family’s attacks, Jordana Brewster’s endlessly resilient and resourceful Final Girl Chrissie broke free from the family’s home and took off in a car. She even managed to alert the police before Leatherface popped up in the backseat and stabbed her through the chest, resulting in her running over the cop to add insult to life-ending injury.
1 Cabin in the Woods
Literally, Everyone Dies At The End
The Cabin in the Woods
- Release Date
- April 13, 2012
- Richard Jenkins, Fran Kranz, Chris Hemsworth, Bradley Whitford, Kristen Connolly
- Horror, Comedy
2012’s classic horror comedy Cabin in the Woods earned extra points for killing off not just the movie’s characters, but everyone on earth in its shocking ending. When the heroes were faced with a choice between sacrificing themselves to the elder gods and allowing the entire planet’s human population to be killed in an apocalyptic event, they went with the latter option. Thus, while another slasher movie earned the Guinness World Record for most highest body count in the subgenre, Cabin in the Woods took the horror genre to its logical extreme with an ending that wiped all of the slasher’s characters and then added in all life on earth for good measure.