Most horror movies quite understandably follow the expected formula of having the heroes/victims facing off against a seriously threatening antagonist by whom they're seriously outmatched. It's a template that's worked for decades, so why mess with it, right?
Yet every so often, adventurous filmmakers dare to toy with that formula, by having the villain eventually come to learn that they're messing with something far worse and more powerful than even themselves.
And that's certainly the case with the following ten horror movies, each of which defied narrative conventions to have the antagonists of the piece end up taking on something even more intense and terrifying.
From violent criminals who got way more than they bargained for, to vengeful victims who became more unhinged than the villain they were targeting, to a serial killer who got impressively outdone by a sociopath of biblical proportions, these villains all got categorically outdone, believe it or not.
It's a tough cinematic trick to pull off, and it certainly doesn't always work perfectly, but when it does, audiences are left with something as satisfying as it is wholly unexpected...
10. Rocky, Alex & Money - Don't Breathe
Don't Breathe does a fantastic job of appearing to pit a trio of unambiguous villains against a severely outmatched hero, only to flip the script in a brilliantly unpleasant way.
The film begins with three young criminals, Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette), and Money (Daniel Zovatto), breaking into the home of blind Gulf War veteran Norman Nordstrom (Stephen Lang) with the intent of stealing the $300,000 Norman received as a settlement following his daughter's death in a car accident.
It initially seems pretty damn cut and dried that Norman is the embattled person to root for here, only for him to not only prove unexpectedly capable of fighting back against the trio, but also reveal a seriously dark secret.
As we learn much later in the story, Norman has kidnapped the woman who killed his daughter, artificially inseminated her with his own seed, and left her pregnant and chained up in his basement.
Now, robbing a bereaved blind guy is scummy as all hell, but kidnap and r*pe? That's a hell of a lot worse. In fact, it's bad enough that the sequel's attempts to reinvent Norman as an anti-hero by having him face off against child organ harvesters falls completely flat.