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Which Hollywood movies have left viewers most confused over their endings?

Sometimes, the ending to a movie can leave the viewer bewildered. You’re watching a very good film for the most part, and then suddenly towards the end, things go pear-shaped or get pretty damn confusing.

Even us film buffs have occasionally left the cinema scratching our heads as to what a film’s ending truly means. Was it some strange cult that’s taken over the key subject’s mind? Was it a dream within a dream? Or was the narrator insane all along?

The team at website Top 10 Casinos had a little time on their hands so they’ve put together a list of the 50 most popular movies that end in the most confusing fashion, using search data from the first half of 2022.

And the results are pretty interesting!

Drama films have the most confusing endings, with 37 flicks out of the 50 analysed making the list. 

Despite its name, movies in the ‘mystery’ genre only make up 18 of the most confusing endings.

In terms of repeat directors on the list, notable auteurs such as Christopher Nolan and Darren Aronofsky both appear frequently, with five (!) of Nolan’s epics making the list and three of Aronofsky’s making the mucking-with-our-minds grade.

Nine of the top 10 most confusing endings belong to films released after the turn of the millennium, highlighting that films truly are becoming more and more mind-boggling.

Tenet (2020) tops the list of the oddest ending, with over 478,000 searches of folks asking what the heck was going on just before closing credits. Set in a twilight world of international espionage, an unnamed CIA operative, known as The Protagonist, is recruited by a mysterious organisation to participate in a global assignment that unfolds beyond real time. Of course the warped time continuum (or lack thereof) is one big reason for the film’s confusing ending. Even Robert Pattinson’s pretty features couldn’t stop us from thinking this film ended too open-endedly.

Shutter Island comes next on the list, with 319,200 searches that ask about its ending. Starring Leonardo Di Caprio in a neo-noir thriller at the hands of Martin Scorsese about a US marshal investigating a psyche facility, this was always going to be a celluloid mind-fuck.

At number three is Midsommar (191,410 searches), which ends with some cultist / conspiracy hoopla that even the most well-trained psychiatrists and occult believers can’t get their heads around.

American Psycho sits at number four, the 2,000 adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ controversial serial killer story scoring 160,000 searches about whether Patrick Bateman’s killing spree is all in his mind.

The rest of the top ten is rounded out by Inception, Donnie Darko, Us, Nocturnal Animals, Hereditary, and classic of classics, The Shining.

Even Frank the Rabbit looks confused by Donnie Darko’s ending…

Yes, there are common themes of dreams and mental illness in most of these movies, and perhaps we should be analysing the sanity of their writers and directors, but you’ve got to admit, most of these movies – at least, production-wise – are worthy of remaining in many of the world’s Top 100 lists: twisted endings or otherwise.

Antonino Tati & Lisa Andrews

 

TOP 10 FILMS WITH THE MOST CONFUSING ENDINGS

Position Film  Year Searches re: film’s ending 
#1 Tenet 2020 478,170
#2 Shutter Island 2010 319,200
#3 Midsommar 2019 191,410
#4 American Psycho 2000 160,000
#5 Inception 2010 144,100
#6 Donnie Darko 2001 119,070
#7 Us 2019 108,400
#8 Nocturnal Animals 2016 97,080
#9 Hereditary 2018 92,700
#10 The Shining 1980 89,600

 

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