Heartwarming horror movies, not the most common genre of horror films but they are out there, and they are weird. Normally, they’re your typical horror movies, right until the end, when they leaving feeling warm and fuzzy. Those situations are often situations that you defiantly shouldn’t feel warm and fuzzy about. Since I will be talking about the endings of the films in this article, it will contain spoilers.
One of my favourite examples of a horror film that left me feeling warm and fuzzy, has to be the Spanish film, The Orphanage (2007). It was a brilliantly executed movie, with a plot line that genuinely had me interested. It was the end that really resonated with me though. The main character, Laura, searches for answers as her adopted son, Simon, disappears and most presume him to be dead. Through out the film Laura is haunted by the ghosts of children, she attempts to communicate with them to find out what happened to her son. Along the way, she finds out that the children are in fact, not to blame and were actually victims themselves. During her journey she becomes attached to the ghosts of the children and they seem to like her. In the end, they show her where her son is and in the worst possible way, they make you think he’s still alive. But it turns out she is seeing his ghost and when she finally focuses, she’s actually holding the dead body of her son. Not very heartwarming, I know. But the very end, is what makes you feel good despite how horrible and depressing the film was. Laura ends up committing suicide, after finding her sons body. But we then see her, as a ghost, looking after her son and all the other murdered children, whose spirits still stay in the home. It’s a sweet moment seeing her with her son once more, and telling all the other children a story. Even though you shouldn’t feel happy, because ultimately they are all dead, it’s still sweet and warming. It ended up making it a truly beautiful film.
A film that I personally think tried for an ending much like that, but didn’t quite capture the emotion like the Orphanage did was, The Woman in Black. When they’re stood on that train station platform at the end of the film, thinking all is well and the evil is gone, you know it isn’t. So when the little boy starts to move away from his father, towards the edge of the platform, you know it isn’t going to end well. But I was surprised that the father managed to get to his son before the train hit. But it wasn’t a surprise to see that the both of them had died. Upon seeing the bright white train station, a lot of the effect was taken away due to Daniel Radcliffe and the clear connection to when Harry Potter died and went to the white train station. Plus his wife emerged just like Dumbledore and it really isn’t what you want to be thinking about at the end of a horror, because it just makes it feel comedic. Even looking at it, without that in my mind, its clearly meant to be a heartwarming moment. He’s getting to see his wife again, and the son is meeting his mother for the first time. But it just doesn’t tug on the heart strings like The Orphanage does. So I think The Woman in Black is an example of how it can go wrong to try and go for the heartwarming end in horror, if it isn’t executed properly.
Some other horror films manage to be heartwarming in very subtle ways. Annabelle being a prime example of that. Though the end is rather morbid, with Alfre Woodard’s character Evelyn, jumping out of the window to her death with the Annabelle doll, in some ways it was also rather beautiful. And I know, that sounds strange. But ultimately Evelyn sacrificed herself, so that the child could live because the demon controlling Annabelle wanted a soul. And that sacrifice was incredibly nobel and so very kind and selfless so you can’t help but feel this warmth towards that character. What makes it tug on my emotions even more, is that Evelyn’s character had lost her only daughter in a car accident when she was driving. So she knows how it feels to have lost a child and clearly didn’t want the family, the main story follows, to have to go through the same thing. Even though the film wasn’t the best, and wasn’t as scary as the little bit of Annabelle we got to see in the Conjuring, I was somewhat happy with that ending. And I was pleased to see a hero come out of a horror film.
Horror movies either pull of those heartwarming moments really well or just ended up looking stupid. It comes down to the way it’s executed and how well the film leads up to that moment. If it isn’t executed with enough heart and emotion, the audience just wont feel it. Ultimately though, endings and how heartwarming they are, are totally subjective. Some people may think an act is selfless, where as other may not understand it at all.