ByMichelle Siouty, writer at

Have you ever watched a movie that finished so ambiguously, so open-ended, that you didn't really know what to think?

Was the protagonist sane or crazy? Was he dead or alive? Was it all real, or was it a full-on dream?

If you try watching the film again for the second or third time, you only continue to go back and forth in confusion. The uncertainty never ends.

Below is a list of films in which the ending felt more like a beginning to all sorts of possibilities.

1. 'Inception'

Christopher Nolan's Inception shows us the possibility that our entire existence is a mere illusion. With a movie that is about dreams within dreams, it comes to no surprise that the ending is left open-ended, with audiences wondering whether Cobb is dreaming in the end or not.

The spinning top at the end of the film offers a chance for us to argue whether we think it finally stopped spinning (since there is that little wobble at the the end) or whether the wobble meant nothing and that the top continued to spin. More theories based off clues in the film suggest that the top might not belong to him at all, meaning he might have never woke up in the end, or maybe he has just been dreaming the entire time.


How do you think 'Inception' ended?

2. 'The Shining'

Stanley Kubrick knows how to play with audiences by using alternative meanings in his films and The Shining is no exception.

The Shining, to this day, still lacks any clear definition. The story does touch on such tragedies as alcoholism, family dysfunction, violence, and descending into madness. But the famously confusing ending is still a mystery to us, which includes an old photograph of the Overlook Hotel containing Jack in the forefront revealing...what?!

The final frame only exacerbates the ambiguity of the entire film, as we are unsure whether Jack is real and alive, or dead.


How do you think "The Shining" ended?

3. 'Shutter Island'

Shutter Island is one of my all time favorite films, and I watch this film once or twice a year because every single time I have a difference perspective and opinion on the ending of the film.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays a detective named Teddy Daniels. Along with his partner Chuck, Teddy tries to get to the bottom of the disappearance of Rachel Solano, a woman who was incarcerated for drowning her three children. Throughout the film we come to learn that Teddy Daniels is actually Andrew Laeddis, a patient on the island, and that he created the "Teddy Daniels" story as a means to cope with the fact that he had killed his manic depressive wife after finding out that she had drowned their children.

Every time I watch this film, my opinion switches back and forth. Teddy is actually Laeddis! No, he isn't, the hospital is trying to trick him! I suddenly feel the urge to watch this again, because I always seem to find clues that point me in either direction.


How do you think "Shutter Island" ended?

4. 'Mulholland Dr.'

David Lynch's Mulholland Dr. is a neo-noir commentary on Hollywood, which starts off with an incredibly captivating story, but then turns into another equally captivating, yet very different, plot.

And aspiring actress played by Naomi Watts arrives in Los Angeles and her world collides with a beautiful, yet amnesiac woman played by Laura Harring. Complete with rabbit holes, non-linear plot lines, and and incredibly cryptic ending, you find yourself deeply emotionally connected, but with nothing clarified or solved.


How do you think 'Mulholland Drive' ended?

5. 'Donnie Darko'

Donnie Darko deals with time travel, which means that we are dealing with a primary universe and a tangent universe that can cause black holes in the main universe. I know, my brain is hurting too right now.

With so many dimensions, it's hard to know when Donnie is dead, alive, in a tangent universe, or in the primary universe. So what does the ending scene mean?


How do you think 'Donnie Darko' ended?

Does anybody else feel the urge to perhaps spend hours watching these films, reading every fan theory in existence, and then sit in your bed until 3 a.m. contemplating all possible meanings and such?

Because I think that's what I'm going to do tonight, even though my brain is going to hurt immensely.

[Source: Taste of Cinema, Esquire, Screen Rant, Donnie Darko The Tangent Universe]


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