The Worst Ending to Any Horror Movie. Ever.
Quite the statement, but not one without qualification. It’s no secret that shoddy horror movies on Netflix is a guilty pleasure on mine. It’s makes for a good bit of background noise when working on other things. But today I saw a movie that had the worst ending a slasher horror movie could have. You may be wondering what exactly makes it so bad, and we’re going to go into detail about it. If you want it in one word: unsatisfying.
We’re not unfamiliar with unsatisfying endings to movies, horror or otherwise. It often comes in the form of a weak ending kept in to allow for a follow up in some form. This goes much further than that.
The movie in question is Deadly Detention. Blair Hayes is the one responsible for this, and I am uncertain to their intentions with this piece of cinema. Their influence’s are certainly worn on his sleeves – the elevator pitch is clearly ‘The Breakfast Club…but a horror movie!’ We’re not unconvinced that a good movie couldn’t have come out of this concept – the problem is one of tone. It becomes increasingly clear throughout the movie that this is intended to be a comedy of some form. Initially we thought that the actors were just terrible. They’re terrible at comedic timing, that much is true. We still don’t know what kind of comedy it is. There’s an argument for parody of slashers, parody of The Breakfast Club, a dark comedy, a spoof, a farce…we have no idea what it’s attempting to do.
As we said, the acting is largely at fault, but there’s problems in the core narrative and we need to focus on these. Before that, let’s say some nice things. The performers and the director have some passion. It’s the kind of passion seen in things like Birdemic and The Room. They don’t have an ounce of talent between them but they are trying their damn best. If it’s intentionally meant to look dated, circa the era of Scream knock-offs, then it did well. It even does that cheesy ‘freeze frame with the character’s name’ title thing that was so trendy at the time. I admire that they managed to get an empty prison location for their story, as bonkers as it is. I think they gave it a real try, just came up short.
Coming back to the narrative problems, we really do hit the ground running. The story is thus: a group of five kids are in for Saturday detention, but because the school is overrun with opossum they hold detention in an abandoned prison. We have the cool handsome rich guy, teacher’s pet star athlete, transgender skater outcast, slutty girl and your standard African American gay dedicated Christian. The oddball principal is with them, but becomes the first murder victim when a murderer starts taunting them over a PA while picking them off one by one. In the end it’ll be revealed to be their bus driver, who has a shrine built to his deceased daughter. The Final Girl left alive here doesn’t notice this wall sized memorial until it gets pointed out to her (despite facing it), and makes the connection between the dead girl and the bus driver.
What makes this problematic is the opening scene on the bus, where it is shown to the audience that the bus driver has an equally obvious shrine alongside him. The camera cuts away to a shot of it, so it cannot be missed. This murder mystery highlights a minor supporting character with an unexplained, out-of-place shrine to an unknown girl. Kinda gives the game away.
This nonsensical approach to story telling rears its head again at the end, and is what inspired me to write this article to purge it from my mind. He’s the journey we’ve been on so far. The principal has been violently murdered, as we observed through a window, and her body is later found hanging in cupboard. They get her down and try to check her pulse, but they can’t agree on where to look for it. They come to the realisation that they can check her FitBit! But the evil voice on the PA stops them (under threat of…something). Naturally they must get out of there immediately! Except they hang back long enough to deliver a heartfelt eulogy. But not check a FitBit.They get separated while they go searching for a way out of the prison and killed off until the ‘slut girl’ (I’m sorry, it’s the only characteristic she has) remains.
Skip ahead to the final confrontation against what was obviously going to be bus driver, who accuses our heroes of having driven his daughter to suicide through bullying. After the expected couple twists and turns the principal pops back up and kills the villain. So predictable villain, twists and a dreadfully weird return of a character presumed dead in unrealistic circumstances. Time for the Worst Ending.
As the ‘slut girl’ and the principal leave the dead body without checking if he’s alive and swap jokes and barbs back and forth in an oddly jolly manner, they discuss the downer of announcing to the school that four of their friends and peers were horribly and violently murdered by a staff member they saw every day. In a throw-away line the principal notes that, as the killer failed to kill her, she thought it was worth checking the other victims.
They were all still alive.
And they just walk away while the credits roll. We saw one of the others get their head slammed shut in a heavy steel door. One had been impaled. If you accept that the insanely long odds that the characters all survived their mortal wounds, you’d think that you’d want to supply them with medical aide or inform emergency services. Perhaps anything other than a jovial chat and slow meander down a hallway. Lithely joking about the victims not being pretty any more doesn’t seem like a reasonable response.
Not only is this a terrible ending, and terribly unsatisfying, but it erases whatever semblance of satisfaction we’d gotten from the previous hour and twenty-five minutes. All of the deaths we walked back and undone. This is a slasher movie so imcmompentant that they couldn’t even kill the characters right.
I feel so empty right now.