The horror genre is versed in eliciting emotions of fear, suspense, and, in the case of seeing the villain fall, satisfaction. An overlooked quality of the genre, however, is that certain films possess the ability to wreck viewers emotionally through story, mood, and situational performances. Today we’re looking at five of the most heartbreaking horror movie moments, so grab your box of tissues and prepare yourself to be a blubbering mess of a human.
5. Dan is eaten by wolves (Frozen, 2010)
The plot of Adam Green‘s tense horror film is relatively simple: Childhood friends Dan (Kevin Zegers) and Joe (Shawn Ashmore) spend a Sunday afternoon at a ski resort with Dan’s girlfriend, Parker (Emma Bell), who doesn’t quite mesh well with Dan’s BFF. When the trio becomes stranded on a ski lift after everyone leaves the resort and with a blizzard settling in, Dan decides to jump from the lift and go after help for the people he loves most in the world. That plan doesn’t quite pan out for Dan, however, as he breaks both of his legs in the process and is subsequently torn apart by wolves as his lover and best friend listen on, entirely devastated. Frozen is a great flick, and this sequence stands out as one of the most heartbreaking moments in horror.
4. Cole tells his mother (The Sixth Sense, 1999)
The Sixth Sense is an exercise in sad horror, with Haley Joel Osment and Toni Collette capturing the emotional distress of a tormented mother and son. Collette’s Lynn struggles throughout the film to understand the trouble of her young son, and in the scene prior to Shyamalan‘s famous Bruce Willis twist, that understanding comes to a satisfying and heartbreaking conclusion. While stuck in traffic during an accident, Cole reveals to his mother that someone died, and that he knows this because they are standing outside his window. He talks about his gift, and when he thinks that she doesn’t believe him, he tells her all about the things his grandmother, Lynn’s mom, has said about her. This moment is made all-the-more powerful due to the stellar performances by Collette and Osment, and I cry every time.
3. Man’s best friend (I Am Legend, 2007)
No list of heartbreaking horror movie moments is complete without the inclusion of a pet death. Often times, the death of an animal in a film can be even more devastating than the death of a human. Such is the case with I Am Legend. Though the film has remained divisive among audiences, there’s no denying the sadness that comes from watching Will Smith‘s Neville being forced to strangle his beloved animal and companion.
2. Kite in the road (Pet Sematary, 1989)
The death of your child is every parent’s worst nightmare, and Mary Lambert’s film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel depicts that loss in a crushing way. The happiest moment of the bleak film comes during a family picnic, with smiles all around as the Creed family’s toddler, Gage, learns how to fly a kite. That happiness is quickly replaced with resounding grief, however, when Gage follows the kite into the road and is killed by a truck. Lambert cutting to happy pictures and moments with the young child makes this moment grueling for parents and non-parents alike. No matter how many times you’ve watched this scene, it remains brutal.
1. Not a monster (The Mist, 2007)
Sticking with Stephen King adaptations for our top spot, the gut-punch ending of The Mist caught everyone by surprise. After a thick mist spreads across a small town in Maine, citizens are trapped in a supermarket by monsters from another dimension, who are killing anyone who steps outside. The film expertly builds horror and drama using just the people inside of the supermarket, culminating in four people, including David (Thomas Jane) and his young son, escaping to a vehicle and trying to get away. When they run out of gas, the sound of outside monsters grows closer, and with the consent of everyone in the car, other than his son who is too young to understand, David shoots and kills them to save them from a worse fate. David then turns the gun on himself, devastated by what he’d just done, only to find the chamber empty. What truly makes this one of the most heartbreaking horror movie moments, though, is when David exits the car and realizes that the “monsters” that were closing in were actually military vehicles and other survivors, and that he’d just killed his son for no reason. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
That does it for our list of heartbreaking horror movie moments! Which scenes would you add to the list? Let us know!