Maybe it’s because we’re naïve and hopeful as a species that we tend to give characters’ escapes the benefit of the doubt.
However, time and again we fall for the fake-outs that leave us painfully disappointed when the character we’ve been rooting for meets their gruesome end.
Whether they’re the last survivor of a group of ill-fated teens, or perhaps a solo man on a mission to save humanity, it seems that no one is safe from a murder at the eleventh hour. We were tricked along with them, with freedom seemingly within reach or such little runtime left that we stupidly believed they may live to tell the tale of their torment.
Reaching a getaway vehicle or seeing a helpful face in the distance can’t always guarantee your survival, and these characters learned that the hard way - paying the price with their lives.
Even more brutally, filmmakers sometimes tease us with survivors making it to the end of the one movie only to kill them off immediately in the sequel. How were we meant to see that coming? It’s just not fair.
10. Max - Videodrome
Depending on the kind of philosophical view you take on this one, you may disagree about the state of Max’s demise at the end of Videodrome. If you’re unfamiliar with Videodrome, take a deep breath and accept that you realistically don’t need to try to understand it - just let it happen.
The film is just short of 90 minutes of pure madness, with hallucinations, evil organisations and confusing analogies blurring the line between what is real and what is not. By the end, our main character Max has been programmed both ways: for and against Videodrome, AKA a channel that broadcasts snuff films and gives you a brain tumour.
Usually with the sort of sci-fi, evil-organisation-adjacent horrors like this you expect it to end with the bad guys being taken down. We, perhaps naively, may have expected that it would end with Max taking down the Videodrome and liberating everyone from the control of the television - doing a full 180 from when he previously wanted to broadcast Videodrome’s content from his own station.
This isn’t quite what happens, instead when Max retreats to a dilapidated boat and sees his dead girlfriend speaking to him from the TV, he closes out the movie by shooting himself in the head. A lot of viewers won’t be too sad about this, thinking Max didn’t deserve a happy ending, but you can’t deny the overall message is made extra depressing with his death as the full stop.