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Mike Kelly

The 50 'most confusing' movie endings list including The Matrix and The Shining

We've all seen movies at the cinema and been left wondering what it was all about. Often the ending of films which is supposed to reveal and explain all actually leaves you either none the wiser or totally confused.

However, which film was the most confusing of all? To work it out, researchers took to Google to look at research data to investigate what 50 Hollywood films end in the most confusing fashion.

They looked at search data from the first half of 2022, amalgamated it together to come up with their results. They found that drama films have the most confusing endings, with 37 films out of the 50 analysed making the list.

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Despite its name, films in the 'mystery' genre only make up 18 of the most confusing endings. In terms of 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.

The research by found that 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 confusing.

In first place is the 2020 science fiction epic ‘Tenet’, helmed by British director Christopher Nolan. The near three hour film took place in multiple timelines, the narrative twisting back on itself towards the end of the film.

Jack Nicholson in The Shining (Warner Brothers/Getty Images)

A remarkable spectacle, but a concept that viewers struggled to understand fully. Indeed, with a huge 478,170 searches by people struggling to understand the film’s ending in just a five month period, Tenet truly baffled as much as it did entertain.

In second place is a filmic masterclass of intrigue and mystery, Shutter Island. Based on the book of the same name by Dennis Lehane, directorial legend Martin Scorsese utilises high-angle camera techniques to ingrain the feeling of being watched into the viewer, just one of a myriad of ways the director weaves a sense of discomfort throughout the film.

However, what was most discomforting to a lot of viewers was the ending, with a shock main character revelation putting the whole film into a new perspective. There were 319,200 search results for a confused ending places Shutter Island second on the list.

Third place goes to Ari Aster’s ‘Midsommar’. Released in 2019 and produced on a very small budget of $9million, this horror-drama centres on a group of friends who travel to a Swedish festival but get caught up in a Scandinavian pagan cult, with truly horrifying consequences.

The unsettling film ends very cryptically, forcing some audience members to search for deeper meaning (via Google). Midsommar garnered 191,400 searches regarding its controversial ending.

The top 10; name, year of release, searches

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

11 to 30

Interstellar; No Country for Old Men; Arrival; Mulholland Drive; Black Swan; Life of Pi; The Matrix; Gone Girl; Edge of Tomorrow; 2001; A Space Odyssey; Blade Runner; I am Legend; Enemy; In The Tall Grass; Memento; Old Boy; Joker; Mother!; Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance); The Lobster

31 to 50

Taxi Driver; Citizen Kane; Looper; Pan's Labyrinth; Planet of the Apes; Lost in Translation; The Thing; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; The Dark Knight Rises; Krampus; Corpse Bride; Total Recall; Pet Semetary; The Wrestler; Sorry to Bother You; Barton Fink; The Birds; Peanut Butter Falcon; The Road; The Tree of Life

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