The universal consensus is that William Brent Bell‘s The Devil Inside (Paramount, opening today) not only stinks, but delivers one of the most contemptibly awful endings of all time — cheap, stupid, audience-insulting.
“I can’t remember any time in my career as a movie critic when the crowd around me, winners of free tickets to see the movie before it was released, all started to boo,” writes Willie Waffle. “The ending for The Devil Inside was so bad and people were jeering so loudly you would have thought Mel Gibson just walked into the synagogue on Saturday.”
“The Devil Inside is an insidious kind of terrible movie, a movie that is simply low-grade bad for most of its thankfully brief running time before offering up an ending so openly contemptuous of the audience as to feel like a prank,” writes Hitfix‘s Drew McWeeny.
“You can blame Satan for a lot of bad things, but not The Devil Inside,” writes Toronto Star critic Peter Howell.
It’s the spitting-on-the-audience aspect that seems to have hit the biggest nerve. This raises a question: what movies have ended “badly” (i.e., in ways that audiences have generally condemned) but which at least had integrity? They may have pissed people off but made some kind of thematic or artistic sense.
One of the most unpopular endings along these lines was the ending of Alfred Hitchcock‘s The Birds. I remember hearing about audiences groaning and howling when they realized that the final shot — a static view of Rod Taylor‘s green sports car driving into the hazy distance while thousands of birds sat around, waiting for the next impulse to attack — was the final shot. I get what 1963 audiences were pissed about, but from my 2012 perspective this might have been the coolest and most haunting ending of a Hitchcock movie ever.
What other films qualify in this regard? Deeply unpopular with Joe Popcorn, but on one level or another deserving of respect.